1985: Harmon tries to hit one across the Mississippi

  • Article by: MICHAEL DORSHER
  • Updated: May 17, 2011 - 11:20 PM

Harmon Killebrew didn't quite know what he was getting into when he was asked to make a publicity appearance as part of baseball's All-Star Game festivities.

hide

Harmon Killebrew on Boom Island (1985)

Photo: Charles Bjorgen, Dml -

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

(In 1985, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire journalism professor Michael Dorsher was the bureau chief for United Press International in the Twin Cities. The All-Star Game was played in Minnesota that year, just as it had been 20 years earlier. Dorsher wrote this story about one of the events that took place during the All-Star festivities, involving Harmon Killebrew and legendary Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, who were the game's honorary captains)

When the All-Star Game last came to Minnesota in 1965, Harmon Killebrew slugged a 411-foot two-run home run.

On Monday, the day before the All-Star Game returns to Minneapolis, Killebrew spent part of the morning in a futile attempt to hit a baseball 600 feet across the Mississippi River.

With more than 1,000 fans pressing too closely to let a pitcher serve up meaty fastballs, Killebrew had to toss the balls up and hit them like fungoes.

Looking like a duffer confronted with the world's largest water hazard, he plunked one ball after another into the muddy Mississippi, none of them landing more than halfway across.

''That was kind of a disappointing experience,'' Killebrew said later.

He had come to Boom Island dressed in a new red, white and blue Twins uniform with his retired No. 3 on the back. He was accompanied by Sandy Koufax, the other All-Star honorary captain and the man who beat the Twins in the seventh game of the 1965 World Series after just two days rest.

''They told us they just wanted to take some pictures of us in front of the Minneapolis skyline,'' said Killebrew, apparently unaware of the buildup given the event. ''We didn't know anything about hitting the ball across the river until we were driving up to the place. Then there were about 3,000 fans and they all wanted autographs. It was a bad deal.''

The fans had come to see the player who hit 573 home runs over 22 seasons -- plus three home runs in 11 All-Star games. Killebrew was elected to the Hall of Fame last year. He tied for the lead in the American League in home runs six times during his career

''I've been watching him since I was a kid, but I've never been this close to him,'' said Barb Guille who had four children in tow. ''I remember a grand slam he hit when I was at the game on Memorial Day (1971).''

The woman standing next to her, Vickie Gangness, remembered being at the park June 3, 1967, when Killebrew belted the only home run to reach Metropolitan Stadium's left field upper deck, a shot of 522 feet.

Killebrew, now 48 and a television commentator for Twins games, looks about the same today as he did midway through his career, only his temples are a little more grey. Bald and stubby, he was a guy arm-chair managers and housewives could relate to.

Even in the aftermath of Monday's debacle, Killebrew appreciated that. As he stopped to satisfy autograph seekers after the opening All-Star Game press conference, a reporter asked why he remained so beloved.

''Gee, I don't know,'' he said. ''But it sure is nice.''

Then he left to play in a charity golf tournament.

  • related content

  • Harmon Killebrew and Sandy Koufax

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
8:10 PM ET123456789RHE
MinnesotaP. Hughes (14-8)000
Kansas CityL. Hendriks (1-0)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Pittsburgh 3
Texas - C. Lewis 2:40 PM
Seattle - E. Ramirez
Washington - D. Fister 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Boston - J. Kelly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
NY Yankees - S. Greene 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Oakland - D. Pomeranz 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 8:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 8:40 PM
Arizona - W. Miley
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close