May 13, 2011

A Sad Day.

Harmon Killebrew, a notable giant in a game where eclipsed benchmarks are almost always forgotten, has announced that he will go into hospice care after what seems like an abrupt illness announced only yesterday; It was only December when it was made known that he was battling esophageal cancer.
The echoes of this man’s home runs rang long into my adolescence, when friends far more knowledgeable than me about the game, would throw his name into conversations about the greatest power hitters ever to menace the plate.
I didn’t know until this afternoon that he had made his start with the Senators. I also didn’t know that he had hit the most homeruns of any player in the 1960s.
Baseball players age much faster than the rest of us watching the game beyond the foul lines in some cruel Einsteinian wrinkle. Mr. Killebrew’s career was longer and more distinguished than the vast majority of players who somehow manage to play in the major leagues, but it still hurts me to hear of them passing on. Even in this era of astronomical paychecks and signing bonuses, and small time personas playing a big time game, baseball gives me something I could not put a price on, something not sold anywhere:

something to cheer for.

I was rooting for Mr. Kilibrew when I’d heard the initial diagnosis. I am rooting for him now in lieu of any thanks I cannot give him for all of the stories of his long, long, long home runs and the arguments his distinguished record inspired among my childhood friends.
Mr. Killebrew, it’s quite something to be 11th.
It really is.