Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Musing about Harmon Killebrew and Memory and Mortality

Harmon Killebrew bestrode my sports universe like the Colossus of Rhodes when I was a farm boy.  I don't know if was the name HARMon KILLebrew that sounded like something from a superhero comic that made me imagine he had that gigantic stature.  It may have been the secret that it's really young boys, not chicks, who dig the log ball, and Killebrew hit 573 home runs.  Perhaps it's the fact that nearly everyone claims that Major League Baseball used Killebrew's image for its logo and that no one seems to care whether the story is true.  It may have been the fact that he seemed so big on the small black and white TV screen that I watched him on or that Herb Carneal's voice seemed a little louder and more vibrant on the transistor radio when Killebrew stepped to the plate.  It was probably a little bit of all of those things combined by the magic that baseball produces in its fans.

Yesterday, Killebrew announced that he was entering hospice care because the esophageal cancer that he has been battling "has progressed beyond . . . doctors' expectation of cure."  The entire announcement has the grace, power, and simplicity of his best home run swings.

I really didn't want another reminder that I'm no longer young.  My father passed away last November.  When I visited my mother over Easter, she seemed to have shrunk a little bit.  My bones creak more loudly each passing morning, and my hair is getting streaks of gray.  Knowing that my first boyhood hero will soon pass is just one more unnecessary reminder that a person's youth fades suddenly and forever.

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