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In a sports world where competitive zeal, big money and idolization often produce self-absorbed stars, Harmon Killebrew was an anomaly.


The Minnesota Twins icon, who died Tuesday, seemed to be a man who was almost without ego. During and after his spectacular 22-year career the powerful slugger presented a persona that was humble, unassuming and considerate of others. Judging from the accolades from teammates and  today’s players, who only knew him in his retirement days, it was more than just a persona.

Jack Morris, the St. Paul native who led the Twins to their 1991 World Series win, was openly emotional when he recalled what Killebrew’s example of being a man meant to him. Morris, who may have not always acted with the grace of the gentlemanly Killebrew, acknowledged that his hero’s laudable qualities went far beyond his days as a premier home run hitter.

“As a grown man now, I look back at him not as that guy, but as the guy that tried to show me you don’t have to be angry, you don’t have to be mad. You can love and share love,” Morris said.

Killebrew climbed from his small-town origins to become one of Major League Baseball’s most feared hitters. And he did it without swagger or braggadocio. He exuded a quiet confidence in his abilities and constantly showed his consideration for others. His humanitarian work supporting Miracle League Fields, a program that allow kids with disabilities to play baseball; the Harmon Killebrew Foundation; and the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament told us much about the man. 

If the Killebrew image was an all an act — if it was just public relations hype, then it was one that he kept up for all of his 74 years and anyone who followed his career is richer for it.

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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