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Killebrew reached Hiller three times

September 20, 2012 - Burt Angeli
Baseball great Harmon Killebrew faced 606 pitchers in his career with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.

Killebrew homered 573 times off 271 pitchers. Breitung Township’s John Hiller, a lefty relief ace for the Detroit Tigers, yielded three home runs to Killebrew.

Steve Aschburner’s new book “Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger” (Triumph) got me thinking about Hiller against the right-handed power hitter who got his start in the majors at age 17 in 1954.

Hiller gave up 110 home runs in his career, with Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski hitting the first in 1967 and New York Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent the last in 1980. Incidentally, Willie Horton, a former Hiller teammate, homered for Seattle.

“Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger” describes a real gentleman who played baseball the right way. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said “there aren’t too many people who met Harmon and walked away disappointed.”

Aschburner notes “Harmon Killebrew was considered the ultimate lot-of-things by those who knew him best.”

Jim Murray, late great LA Times columnist, observed “if they had a category for 25 all-time ‘nicest,’ he would be so far out in front that whoever was second would be in a monastery.”



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