Harmon Killebew Once Told A Hospitalized Boy He Would Hit Two Homers In A Game – And Did It
As the baseball world continues to mourn the passing of one of the true giants of the sport, I am sure more stories like this one will continue to surface regarding the kind, noble and giving soul that was Harmon Killebrew. Kansas City Royals legend George Brett, who considered Killebrew one of his favorite players while growing up in California, upon learning of Harmon’s death, said recently that “If Harmon had hit lefthanded, he would have been Babe Ruth.” And this story lends credence to that observation. A promise to hit not one, but two home runs…and actually doing it.
Above is a photo which appeared in the May 21, 1964 morning edition of the Minneapolis Tribune. It shows a moment during Killebrew’s visit to 8-year-old John Guiney in a New York hospital. Killebrew and the Twins were in town for a two-game series with the Yankees when he heard about how Guiney was badly burned when his altar robe caught fire while lighting candles at his parish in Brooklyn. The visit, arranged by the New York Daily News and little John’s father, included Harmon signing a baseball and a glove for Guiney and culminated in the following exchange (via the Star Tribune):
After a little baseball chatter — “I’m a shortstop,” the bandaged boy said — Killebrew made a deal with the lad: “If you hurry up and get well, the next time I’m in town, I’ll take you out to the ball park and you can meet all the fellows.”
With the afternoon game near, Killebrew said it was time he headed head to the stadium.
“I’ll watch you on television,” the blue-eyed, freckle-faced youngster said from his Manhattan hospital bed.
“Maybe I’ll hit you a couple,” Killebrew responded.
Guess what? Killer hit two homers, a two-run round tripper in the first inning and a solo shot in the eighth inning of Minnesota’s 7-4 win. Even better, Harmon made good on his promise: Guiney got better and Killebrew hosted him at Yankee Stadium four months later, giving Ryan one of his bats.
Obviously, when Guiney, now 55-years-old, heard that Killebrew was ill with esophageal cancer, it brought all those memories flooding back:
“[Last week] I was listening to the radio and heard he was sick,” Guiney said. “I said a little prayer when I heard that.”
Guiney said he took the news of Killebrew’s death Tuesday pretty hard and can attest to what “they said in the paper — that he was a great ballplayer but a greater human being.”
Indeed he was, sir. Indeed he was. And if that touching story doesn’t at the very least cause you to become somewhat emotional, I feel sorry for you.
Harmon to boy in hospital: ‘Maybe I’ll hit you a couple.’ And sure enough… [Star Tribune]