MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fans are reacting to news that Twins legend Harmon Killebrew announced Friday he will enter hospice care.
Killebrew, 74, was diagnosed last December with esophageal cancer. He said in a statement Friday that he has exercised every option to try and treat the cancer, but is in his “final days.”
Before there was Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau, Harmon Killibrew made a name for himself as a Minnesota Twin.
“For people of my generation, Harmon was Kirby Pucket before Kirby Pucket was around,” said Reid Olson, a Killebrew fan.
Killebrew earned his spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his work off the diamond may have the biggest impact on younger generations.
“He saw our cause, with giving every kid an opportunity to play baseball, as something he thought was right,” said Kevin Thoresen of the Miracle League of Minnestoa.
Through the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, Killebrew has helped build ball fields for kids who otherwise couldn’t play.
Thoresen, the director of the Miracle League of Minnesota, has come to know Killebrew as not only a baseball great, but a great man.
“He is the best example of someone who follows the golden rule better than anyone I’ve ever met,” said Thoresen.
Decades after he last played ball, Killebrew still has the same appeal of any player you see today.
“My regret being a Harmon fan and Twins fan was never being around to see him play,” said Olson.
While many fans are sad to hear Killebrew’s cancer has progressed, some hope he, even in failing health, will once again lead the Twins to victory.
“Maybe they can get some emotion on it and get on a roll, I hope,” said Bryan Flach, a Twins fan.
Killibrew’s foundation has helped many other organizations as well, including the Gillette Children’s Specialty hospital in St. Paul.