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OUT OF THE PARK ON A HALF SWING
Barbara Heilman
April 08, 1963
Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew, the loudest bat and quietest mouth in baseball, goes doggedly about the business of leading the major leagues in home run production and ice cream consumption
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April 08, 1963

Out Of The Park On A Half Swing

Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew, the loudest bat and quietest mouth in baseball, goes doggedly about the business of leading the major leagues in home run production and ice cream consumption

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Killebrew's is an intricate reserve. He would prefer writers not to mention, for instance, that he doesn't drink or smoke. After a certain amount of experience of Harmon, a good guess at the reason for this is that Harmon has friends who do both, and that making a big thing of his habits could conceivably read like some faint assertion of his opinion as opposed to the opinion of somebody else somewhere. Harmon is so sensitive in this respect that it is reasonable to infer that his own feelings can be hurt with less than a sledgehammer. He worried for weeks after saying on television that he'd like to see Maury Wills try to steal 104 bases in the American League. He hadn't meant to hurt Wills's feelings. He had only been rather automatically defending his own league. "That's all I meant," he brooded, and when someone assured him that Wills would know that, Killebrew said, no, if anybody ever said they'd like to see him hit 48 home runs in the National League, his feelings would be hurt. Harmon thinks Sam Mele is the best manager he's ever worked for, but debated being quoted as saying, "What he does particularly well is to keep everybody happy." Some former manager might think Harmon was saying he didn't. Harmon said, "We sure liked Washington. We kind of hated it, when we moved—we had friends there, and everything." Then he added, with faint alarm, "Of course, we love Minnesota"—as if he might have wounded the states of Minnesota, Missouri, Idaho and probably Oregon.

At dinner in Orlando, Harmon Killebrew finally leaned across the table and said solemnly to Herb Heft, "Herb, what unusual hobbies do you have?" A man deserves to be let off the hook.

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