“Harmon Killebrew has passed away at his home in Scottsdale yesterday.” “Killebrew was 11th on the all-time home runs list.” “In other news, ——” The rest of the newscast faded into the background as I considered the passing of this baseball legend a couple days ago.
My mind went into full speed rewind and dropped me off in the late 60’s re-living in color the first time I ever heard the name, Harmon Killebrew.
I loved baseball… At the time, I was the only one in my family who did. My dad never watched baseball in those days, he mostly worked to provide for us at that time. If my memory serves me correctly, the only black and white TV we had was broken, although the Hewlett Packard console was an integral part of my mom’s tiny living room decor.
My brothers had tried their hand at baseball and weren’t to interested. Lucky for me Bobby’s old mitt was right handed and though worn, flattened, and beat up, worked just fine.
I recall riding on Bobby’s handle bars to the park for Pee Wee League try-outs. I would eventually end up on the Astros where I started my inexperienced career in right field. Right field in Pee Wee League is one move from the bench, the place where the less talented kids played.
Passion, commitment, and fun have a way of changing things. After displaying some potential and commitment for more than three quarters through that first season, I got some of the best presents I’d ever received, better, or at least as good as Christmas.
As a kid although my parents never complained or made a big deal of it, I knew money was tight. There wasn’t any extra for anything other than the essentials.
The word elation falls short of what I felt to have new cleats. Only the rich kids had cleats! Jet black with bright orangish yellow laces about 1/2″ thick. Cool!!! As if that weren’t enough: A new mitt!!!
I remember standing in the store throwing my right fist into the new glove on my left hand as hard as I could imitating a baseball. I also remember saying out loud the name written through the big palm of the glove. “Wow”! — “Harmon Killebrew”! Then I thought to myself, “I don’t know who he is, but he must be super cool to have his name written across the inside of the coolest baseball glove ever”!!!
I used what started out as an oversized baseball glove that ended up the perfect fit for five more years. I never considered another glove, even when I was using shoe strings to tie the leather laces between the fingers that held the glove together.
Although it was worn to the point where you could no longer see the stamped signature of Harmon Killebrew, I knew it was there. I played like he was there watching me every time I played. Hitting or striking out, fielding an infield grounder successfully or committing an error. Stealing bases successfully or getting thrown out, I always gave 100%.
I carry many names and signatures with me of the influences of my life, like that old glove. You can’t see them, but they’re there.
My dad’s name is written upon me along with my big brothers. Many others as well that aren’t famous, but have had a significant impact on my life.
The signatures I carry with me though faded and unreadable that have had the most influence in my life are the ones who taught me to carry the name that comes first and last; Jesus Christ.
I’ve had an opportunity to have my name written within the hearts of people that have blessed my life as well. Although unreadable by the naked human eye, can be seen and felt by the ones that have the ink of my love written across their hearts.
Like Harmon Killebrew my days are numbered, all of ours are.
The lessons and truth we learned along the way that are encapsulated by the signature of our lives written upon the ones we leave behind is our legacy.
We all get our turn at bat…