Harmon Killebrew would have been 78 today. He passed away in 2011.
I never saw him play, but he was one of my favorite players. Besides a Hall of Fame Major League career, he also played 2 seasons in the Southern Association for my Chattanooga Lookouts. I had the chance to meet him several times over the years and each time was always a pleasure. My favorite meeting produced my favorite Killebrew autograph.
Harmon was to appear pre-game at a Ft. Worth Cats game. I packed the kids up and headed out to Ft. Worth. I was wearing my throwback 1957 Lookouts jersey in the hopes that Harmon would say something.
I had a few cards to get signed but the item I was focused on getting signed was a photo. A special photo.
I had purchased a lot of items from Major League and Minor League manager Cal Ermer when he passed. Part of the lot was a large number of photos. Many were news service photos. Some I could identify, others I’m still researching. One photo in particular featured 5 players posing for the camera in Engel Stadium. 2 of those players were banned from baseball for throwing games (a story for another day) and one of the players was a young Harmon Killebrew.
I had gone back and forth on if I should get it signed or not. It was a somewhat unique piece. Even waiting in line I wasn’t 100%. At the least I wanted to show it to Harmon.
It was my turn to approach the table. As I walked up and stuck out my hand, Harmon looked at my jersey and said, “Turn around!” He wanted to see my jersey number. “Ok,” he said. “That’s not my jersey!”
My girls got their cards signed and then I handed him the photo and asked him if he remembered posing for it.
“Oh yes,” he said. “I remember it and I remember all those guys.” I asked him who was the guy second from the end next to Jessie Levan. He told me it was Stan Roseboro. Stan was a career Minor Leaguer.
I asked him to sign the photo and he asked me if I was sure I wanted him to. I told him I was and he signed it. He looked at it again and said that he really would like it since he did not have it in his collection. I just so happened to have thought ahead and I had made a copy of the photo, just in case he did want it. I gave him the copy.
Killebrew was a great guy. Always had a smile on his face. He is missed at card shows.
My second favorite meeting took place at a card show that Rick Honeycutt once put on, but that’s a story for another post.
Signed copies now available!