MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Inside the Dome Souvenir Shop and Museum, a soft-spoken man with a razor-sharp memory told stories about a Twins’ legend on Tuesday.
“Yes, I knew him from the first day he came up in the major leagues,” said Ray Crump.
Few people had a closer friendship with Harmon Killebrew than Crump. As the team’s former equipment manager, first with the Washington Senators and in 1961 with the Minnesota Twins, Crump and Killebrew go back a long, long time. Killebrew died at the age of 74 in Arizona Tuesday morning after a battle with espophageal cancer.
“I’ve known him like a brother. I tell you it’s a sad day,” Crump said.
Ray’s sadness is shared by former teammates and Twins fans of all ages. Even if you never saw Killebrew belt one out at the old Metropolitan Stadium, you’ve no doubt heard the stories. His skill at hitting home runs is legendary. Eight seasons belting out 40 or more and 573 during his 22 year career.
At Ray’s store and museum by the Dome, the walls are full of Killebrew memorabilia. Black-and-white photos, baseballs and bats, all signed by Ray’s close friend.
“He’s on every baseball. I have an All-star bat, and a World Series bat from 1965,” Crump said.
Beyond the home runs and all the glory on the baseball diamond, there was Killebrew’s human side. Crump said you’ll never meet a friendlier, more humble or caring person.
“Never seen him in my life turn down an autograph or anything,” said Crump.
It was a mix of Killebrew’s kindness off the field and success on it that so endeared him to Minnesota Twins fans. In fact, his old No. 3 jersey is still popular in the Twin’s pro shop long after Killebrew left the game.
“Well it’s sad to see him go. He was so well known and loved in this state,” said long-time Twins’ fan Melanie Meidl.
Bob Wolf couldn’t agree more.
“Just the way he was with everybody. He was a kind man, he was good for baseball,” Wolf said.
And to Ray Crump, the dearest of friends - who swung a mean bat, but had a warm heart.
“Harmon Killebrew, no one can say anything bad about him. Harmon Killebrew, he was the best I’ll tell you,” Crump said.
Click here to read the original story on Harmon Killebrew’s death.
Click here to read reaction of Twins fans on Killebrew’s death.
Click here for a tribute to Killebrew.
Click here for a Harmon Killebrew photo gallery.