Killebrew timeline

  • Updated: May 17, 2011 - 11:14 PM

June 29, 1936: Harmon Killebrew was born in Payette, Idaho.

June 19, 1954: Signed a "bonus baby" contract at age 17 with Washington Senators for $30,000. Required to spend next two years on roster; by end of '56 season he had batted only 192 times but had nine HRs.

June 24, 1955: Hit first major league home run off Detroit lefthander Billy Hoeft in 18-7 Tigers victory.

April 30, 1961: Hit first homer as a Twin off White Sox reliever Bob Shaw in a 5-3, 11-inning loss. Killebrew finished first year in Minnesota with 42 homers, 105 RBI while batting .242.

July 11, 1965: Hit one of the biggest homers in franchise history to lead Twins to a 6-5 victory over the perennial AL champ Yankees in the final game before the All-Star break. In the bottom of the ninth Killebrew smashed a two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch from Yankees reliever Pete Mikkelsen. With one swing the Twins' lead in the AL went to five games; Minnesota went on to a 102-60 record, winning the pennant by seven games over the White Sox.

Aug. 2, 1965: Dislocated his left elbow while playing first base when he reached for a wide throw from third baseman Rich Rollins and his left arm was run into by Baltimore's Russ Snyder. Killebrew missed 47 games during the Twins' stretch drive to the AL pennant but returned to play all seven games in the World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

June 3, 1967: Became the first player to hit a ball into the second deck of the left field pavilion at Metropolitan Stadium. The home run, hit against California's Lew Burdette, was estimated to have traveled 522 feet.

1969: Killebrew was named American League MVP for the only time in his career after leading Twins to AL West title with .276 average, 49 homers and career-high 140 RBI.

Aug. 10, 1971: Became 10th player in major league history to reach 500 career home runs when he hit a first-inning round-tripper off Baltimore's Mike Cuellar. The quest to 500 was a tough one; Killebrew was stalled at No. 499 for 13 games and had only one homer in 35 previous games before his blast off Cuellar.

1971: Played with chronic pain in his big toe, which affected his performance the remainder of his career. After hitting 90 homers combined in 1969 and 1970, he had 86 in his final five seasons.

Aug. 11, 1974: Harmon Killebrew Day at the Met. "They say a day like this usually means a player isn't far from his end,'' Killebrew told the crowd of 27,363. The words proved to be prophetic.

Jan. 16, 1975: Granted his release by Twins after refusing an offer by owner Calvin Griffith to be a Twins coach and pinch-hitter. Killebrew wanted to play another year as a full-time designated hitter.

Jan. 24, 1975: Signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Royals. He batted .199 with 14 homers and 44 RBI in 106 games before retiring after the season at the age of 39. He finished with 573 career homers.

1976: Killebrew rejoined the Twins organization as a TV analyst.

Aug. 12, 1984: Became the first Twins player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. (plaque at left). He was selected in his fourth year of eligibility.

1997: Became a Twins special assistant, a role that made him a regular participant at TwinsFest, the team's winter caravan and other major community events.

2006: Became an on-field instructor during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

Dec. 29, 2010: Notified Twins that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and issued a public statement the next day disclosing that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic.

May 17, 2011: Died at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home after a five-month battle with cancer.

DENNIS BRACKIN

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