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Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew Dies at 74

Harmon Killebrew died at the age of 74
FILE – This April 12, 2010, file photo shows former Minnesota Twins baseball player and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew getting a hug from current Twins player Michael Cuddyer (5) in the dugout prior to the Twins’ home opener baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at their new stadium, Target Field, in Minneapolis. Killebrew, the Twins slugger known for his tape-measure home runs, died Tuesday, May 16, 2011, at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 74.(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File )
Obit Killebrew Baseb Mian
FILE - This April 12, 2010, file photo shows former Minnesota Twins baseball player and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew getting a hug from current Twins player Michael Cuddyer (5) in the dugout prior to the Twins' home opener baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at their new stadium, Target Field, in Minneapolis. Killebrew, the Twins slugger known for his tape-measure home runs, died Tuesday, May 16, 2011, at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 74.(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File )

Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew died Tuesday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a fight with esophageal cancer. He was 74.

Killebrew died only four days after he announced that his disease was incurable. He passed away peacefully under the watch of his wife Nita, the Twins organization announced in a statement.

“This is truly a sad day in the history of the Minnesota Twins organization,” said Twins Chief Executive Officer Jim Pohlad in a statement.

“The Twins will remember Harmon for his many on-field contributions but importantly for the impeccable quality of his character, his great integrity and his compassion for everyone he encountered. The Pohlad family and the Twins organization send our thoughts and prayers to Nita and the rest of the Killebrew family. Harmon will be deeply missed by all.”

Over his 22-year career, the big swinging righty hit 573 home runs, and scored more than 1,200 runs.

In 14 seasons with the Twins, Killebrew hit 475 home runs, and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1969 when he hit 49 home runs and knocked in 140 RBIs—both career highs.

The 11-time All-Star broke in with the Washington Senators in 1954 when he was only 18 years old. His first great season came five years later when he hit 42 home runs and drove in over 100 RBIs.

When the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961, Killebrew immediately became a fan favorite, and started a streak of four-straight seasons with over 40 home runs.

Obit Killebrew Baseb Mian 2
Roses sit on the plaque by the statue of Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame baseball player Harmon Killebrew by his statue on Target Field plaza Friday, May 13, 2011 in Minneapolis. Killebrew, who is suffering from esophageal cancer, released a statement Friday that he has "exhausted all options" for treatment and the cancer is incurable. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

He retired from baseball in 1975 after one year with the Kansas City Royals.

When his playing career ended, Killebrew joined the organization in 1997 as a Special Assistant, and was a regular at Twins Spring Training as an on-field instructor.

Known for his power, Killebrew was given the nickname “Killer.”  In 1984, he became the first Minnesota Twins player to be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

“Harmon was a beacon of light among his fellow Hall of Famers, always smiling, always enjoying every moment that life delivered at his doorstep,” Jane Forbes Clark, the chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum said in a statement.  “We have so many fond memories of this wonderful baseball hero, and we will miss him enormously.”

The Minnesota House observed a moment of silence Tuesday morning after hearing the news that the Twins Cities legend died, the Associated Press reported.

Last Friday, Killebrew announced he was ending his fight with the disease and would spend his final days with his wife by his side.

“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end. With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure,” Killebrew said.

“I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.

I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side.”

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