When I was a kid my dad took me to a lot of baseball games. We went to minor league games until 1961, when the Minnesota Twins came to Minneapolis. I was at a game at Metropolitan Stadium the day Harmon Killebrew turned 25.
"He can't be 25," I said. "He's bald."
I was a dumb kid.
Killebrew had everything but hair. Major League Baseball was new to our part of the country, and we needed somebody to make the Twins feel like ours. Many of us chose Killebrew.
At that age, I wanted runs. A final score of 8-6 was good, but 10-8 was better. The Twins collected power hitters, and Harmon was the best of them. He came out of Idaho, which seemed far away and exotic, and he had country power. Forearms thick beneath his uniform, he made a living out of going deep.
A lot of hitters claim they don't go to the plate looking to hit a home run. Killebrew admited that he did. He hit 573, which is why he's in Cooperstown.
Harmon played the way our dads wanted us to. He didn't call attention to his exploits, no matter how far they traveled, and he didn't yell at umps. He was a gentleman athlete.
Killebrew died from cancer Tuesday at the age of 74.
I never met him, but in interviews he always was gracious, humble and kind. As an adult, the only sports heroes I have are the ones I had as a kid.
Killebrew was one of them. So maybe I wasn't so dumb.