Reporting Eric Nelson
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Before Kirby Puckett, there was Harmon Killebrew, and when the Twins first arrived in Minnesota, he was the reason to go to the ballpark.
“Obviously the numbers, the baseball player speaks for himself, but the person, the man, the guy that touched so many lives, I think, off the field, was just so great,” said Jim Thome.
Last Friday in Arizona, over 1,000 people paid their last respects to the late Killebrew at a church in Peoria, Ariz. Harmon was than laid to rest in a private ceremony in his hometown of Payette, Idaho on Monday.
Harmon may have been a superstar. He was surrounded by and played against superstars, but he was as a regular guy as anyone would ever want to meet.
That’s why so many Twins fans gathered at Target Field Thursday and why so many current Twins players hold Harmon in such high regard.
“He meant a lot to a lot of people,” said Michael Cuddyer. “With it being over a week since his passing, I think you’ll see Thursday night being more of a celebration. At least that’s what I hope it’ll be, because we’ve mourned, and we’re going to continue to mourn, but it’s time to look back and appreciate the greatness that we all were able to witness.”
“To get the opportunity to come to this organization and meet a man like that is something that I’ll never forget,” said Thome.
“You can’t really sum up what he meant to me or to this city or to this team,” said Justin Morneau. “We get to say thank you and what he meant to us and the example he set for us. It’s just an honor to be able to speak, to be asked to speak.”
Many of Killebrew’s family members were also set to be on hand on Thursday.