Harmon Killebrew, one of the great sluggers in baseball history, has died of esophageal cancer at age 74. Mr. Killebrew grew up in Idaho and was signed by the Washington Senators as a 17-year-old “bonus baby” in 1954. He was recommended to the Senators by an actual senator, Herman Welker, who was a baseball fan and knew the Killebrew family.
It took five years for the young slugger to become established, but when he became the Senators’ regular third baseman in 1959, he responded by leading the American League in home runs, with 42. (Rocky Colavito of Cleveland also hit 42 that year.)
After the 1960 season, the Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Minnesota Twins. Mr. Killebrew continued with his slugging ways and went on to lead the league in home runs six times and in runs batted in three times. He helped lead his team to the World Series in 1965.
He retired in 1975 after hitting 573 home runs, which was fifth most in history at the time. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. A full obituary will follow.