On Tuesday morning, the Minnesota Twins and baseball lost a hero. As you know by now, Harmon Killebrew passed away after his short fight with esophageal cancer. After reading and hearing stories about the man that “Killer” was, it almost makes us minimize how great of a baseball player he really was.
How often since the news came out Friday morning that Killebrew was in his final days did we hear players say, “I want to be like Harmon Killebrew,” or “Today, I lost my hero?”
Those aren’t words uttered just any time that there is a death. With Killebrew, it all appears to be completely genuine. The respect he had for his teammates, the fans and the game of baseball was something that people could count on. It is clear that the respect was mutual.
Honestly, on Tuesday I wanted to blog about some of the negatives surrounding the Twins. This 2011 team has been very frustrating. I was ready to start some articles looking forward to 2012. And then came the news of Killebrew’s passing, and all of the stories from teammates and fans alike. All I could think was, “I want to be like Killer.”
I want to be respectful. I want to stay positive. I still want the Twins to play better and win, but I don’t want to be that guy that starts questioning the player’s, coach’s or front office’s desire to win and compete when I don’t know the full story. I don’t want to bash players who are obviously still trying their best, and still struggling. I want to believe in people, and I think that’s OK.
That was Harmon. Yes, he was competitive and wanted to win as much as anybody, but he did it with a style, a class, a composure.
I will have my days, like any Twins fan or blogger or blog commenter, when the frustration gets the best of me. But I want to be like Harmon. To paraphrase (or steal) a slogan, as I’m blogging and thinking about writing something negative and spiteful and malicious (Which I never think is fair or right), I will ask myself, “What Would Harmon Do?”
Last night, I posted on my Twitter and Facebook pages a Poll Question: I asked people to let me know how they would rank the Top 5 Twins Players in their MInnesota history. In other words, over the past 51 seasons, who would be your top 5, and how would you rank them one through five. I had an answer in my mind, but I was curious what others would think.
Obviously this is not a scientific poll. It’s a fun poll, and for me it was particularly fun to read many of the names that were mentioned. Some may vote purely statistically. Some may choose other ways of making their selections. That’s just fine. If nothing else, it’s a nice look back at some of the greats in this franchise’s history. Ironically, when I made my charts today to show the results, there were exactly 50 people who contributed their thoughts. A pretty nice sample. I can’t help but think that if you grabbed 50 random people around Target Field or in the press box or at the Mall of America, they may come up with a fairly similar list.
The results were very interesting. There are guys at the top of this list that are quite obvious, but would the top two be in the same order if this question was asked one year ago, or one year from now?
But it was very interesting to see some of the names mentioned in the four and five spots. The best part about this type of blog is that there is no right or wrong answer (although those that put Nick Punto in the #5 spot probably should be required to explain!).
With that, enjoy this ranking, and in the comments below, discuss and add your lists too. (Note – I used a system with 5 points for a 1st place vote, 4 points for a 2nd place vote, … , and 1 point for a 5th place vote.)
FOR THE RECORD – My vote (which I did NOT include in the chart below) would go: 1.) Kirby Puckett, 2.) Harmon Killebrew, 3.) Rod Carew, 4.) Tony Oliva, and 5.) Jim Kaat. What’s your vote?
Feel free to discuss!