The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin on July 11, 1965 · Page 46
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The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin · Page 46

Racine, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 11, 1965
Page 46
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Page 46 article text (OCR)

SPORTS THINK OF WHITE SANDS, ROTHY WAVES AND A BRISK LITTLE BREEZE LAUGHING ITS WAY IN FROM THE SEA. THINK MUSIC. THINK PICNIC, THINK FUN THINK GAMES THINK HOW AWFUL IT WOULD BE IF YOU COULDN'T GO- THIS WEEK-END, SAY-BECAUSE OF YOU-KNOW-WHAT THINK TAMPAl TAMPAr INTERNAL SANITARY PROTECTION GIVES YOU THE REEDOM OF THE BEACH {YOU CAN EVEN WEAR YOUR BIKINI.) IF YOU DON 'T WANT TO SWIM, YOU DON 'T HAVE TO BUT WHY STAY HOME FROM THE SUN THE FUN? WHY. INDEED? TAMPAX TAMfAX* INTERNAL SANITARY PROTECTION IS MADE ONLY »•< TAMPAK INCORPORATED, PALMER, MASS. HARMON KILLEBREW: Minnesota's Paul Bunyan of Baseball Despite his home-run records, he sometimes has wondered whether getting into baseball was a mistake; it wasn't— as he's now proving on the field and in the batting box By |ACK RYAN AT 29, Harmon Killebrew, XJL slugging star and sometime strike-out king of the Minnesota Twins, intimately knows baseball's ups and downs—mostly downs. Even today, with a fine 1964 season behind him and '65 looking even better, his freckled face winces with recollections of less-happy days. "I spent two years on the Washington bench," he recalls, "and then in 1958, with my wife Elaine expecting our first baby, they sent me down to Indianapolis. Elaine went home to have the baby -while I set up an apartment for us in Indianapolis. Then I got word I was going even further down—to Chattanooga. It was a tough step backward, and with Elaine and a new baby . . . well, I wondered whether I'd made the wrong move in '54," The move Killebrew speaks of came when he was an awkward 17- year-old in Payette, Idaho, packing his bags for the University of Oregon, where he had accepted a football scholarship. Along came Ossie Bluege, a scout for the Washington Senators, to watch Harmon play third base for the local ball team. He saw Killebrew get 11 hits in 12 at-bats and signed him for a |12,000 bonus. (Cincinnati once offered $600,000 for Killebrew, though characteristically Harmon finds this "hard to believe.") But until recently Harmon and Elaine Killebrew were never really sure that he shouldn't have taken the next bus to Oregon instead of entering big-league baseball. Yet the records show that no play- 6 Family Weekly, July 11,1965 er—Mays, Mantle, or Mathews— has hit more home runs than Harmon since he became an active regular. His home-runs-per-bats average is second only to that of Babe Ruth, and he has led the American League in homers for three straight years. But Harmon speaks more of failures than of triumphs. About his fielding: "Sometimes I made more errors than hits." About his hitting record: "How can they say I'm a great hitter with averages like .243?" The failures caused Harmon (and sometimes his bosses) to wonder whether he shouldn't have continued his education. But in 1964 he not only reached his peak in homers with 49 but hit a respectable .270. What are the reasons? Harmon is too mod' est to express an opinion about himself. Instead, he quotes these opinions given by the "experts": 1. Rather than having his position switched from day to day, he has remained in oiie spot for a whole season—left field in '64 and first base in '65. "You get used to what a position requires," he says, "and play more naturally." 2. He has stopped trying to kill every pitch. "When they get the second strike on me," he says, "I swing just hard enough to hit it." A new sense of belonging has come with Harmon's better all- around playing. He has become more talkative and relaxed than the one-word kid from Payette (having his own tv show in Minneapolis also may have helped) and more positive in his daily playing. His only regrets now are: that his father, a house painter, who played football at Millikin University and under Greasy Neal, died before Har­ mon came up to his potential—and that he can't spend more time with his family. Harmon and Elaine moved last year to Ontario, Ore., a few miles across the state line from Payette. There they "have a couple of acres, a couple of horses, a lamb, some dogs and cats—and five children." The youngsters are Cameron, 9; Kenneth, 7; Shawn, 3; Kathryn, 19 months; and Erin, born last May. Elaine says she always can tell when Harmon hits a homer "because he comes home looking sheepish." As for herself, she can take baseball or leave it alone—possibly because she spent her honeymoon in Mexico while Harmon played winter ball and "both of us were sick all the time we were there," The older boys, however, are beginning to realize that their father is the man Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams are betting on to set a new home-run record. When Harmon dashed home last May between games to see Erin, he found Kenneth taking advantage of a relaxation of discipline by wearing his baseball uniform to school. "Just imagine!" Harmon says. "Wearing it to school!" But with the disapproval is the tone of pride. The tone of pride, as a matter of fact, comes with increasing frequency to Harmon's voice these days, and with good reason. He has had failures, admitted them—and worked with a great deal of zeal to overcome most of them. The results already show in the records—and Harmon Killebrew's "experts" are betting that, at 29, he may well become Minnesota's Paul Bunyan of Baseball. •

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