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Harmon Killebrew: “My battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end”

May 13, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT


Hall of Famer and Twins great Harmon Killebrew has entered into hospice care following unsuccessful treatments for esophageal cancer and issued a very sad and equally brave statement:

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.

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.


Devastating news, especially since the initial reports about his treatment were so encouraging months ago. Killebrew is one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history, ranking fifth all time with 573 homers when he retired in 1975, but is also universally regarded as one of the nicest superstars of all time and is beloved by Twins fans and Minnesotans. Here’s hoping he finds some peace in his final days.

  1. spudchukar - May 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Out here in Idaho, we of course have a special affinity for “Killer”. In his honor, I suggest naming a local microbeer in his name. He is a helluva man.

    • kopy - May 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      I don’t know Killebrew’s stance on alcohol, but in Target field and the Twin Cities you can get a great bottle/can of the soft stuff:

      • cusoman - May 13, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        Sadly it’s not that good as far as root beer goes 😦 But in honor of a great man, I will gladly down one!

  2. Joe - May 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Damn is right.

  3. kopy - May 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Sad day for Twins and baseball fans everywhere. Killebrew was a class act, and he will be missed. As a young guy, I’m fortunate that he hung around the Twins organization enough after his playing days for people of all ages to be able to realize just how great of a person he is. It’s a forgone conclusion that the Twins will do something special to honor him, including a ceremony and uniform patches. It’s going to be a memorable season in many ways.

    • trevorb06 - May 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      I hope they honor him before he dies. That’d make it more special.

      • florida727 - May 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

        Unfortunately, and I mean this with the utmost of respect, it won’t happen. My mother-in-law was in hospice. It’s considered “end of life” care and they, by their own statistics, do not expect people to be there more than 4-6 days, max. That said, I can tell you firsthand that the hospice we went to every day while she was there was a completely first class facility. They really know how to care for a person in their last days. They make them as comfortable as possible. They also do a great job caring for the families. Those people have a very special talent for compassion when it’s needed most.

  4. dexterismyhero - May 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    The man could just flat out slam a baseball……Always looked like a linebacker when he stepped to the plate……Always showed class….

    Go in peace Big Man……. :>(…..

  5. Jeremiah Graves - May 13, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    This is some very sad news about Harmon. I was lucky enough to meet him once, years ago, and he was amazingly friendly, upbeat and humble for a dude of his stature. It was an honor to shake his hand, get an autograph and spend a few minutes chatting with a legend. Prayers to the Kilebrew family.

  6. cerritossportsgroup - May 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Harmon was from the Payette, Idaho area, where my Grandmother lived. I watched him all through the 60s and will never forget his power, humbleness, and good sportsmanship.

  7. The Common Man/ - May 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    I am just incredibly, incredibly sad. Harmon was incredibly kind when I met him. He exudes warmth, class, and dignity. God bless him and his family.

  8. ThatGuy - May 13, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Awful news, as a Twins fan I look forward to the day I can tell my grand kids about the exploits of the Killer.

  9. IdahoMariner - May 13, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    A great player who exudes strength and class, right to the end. As he spends his last days surrounded in the peace and love of his family, hopefully he also knows that he is surrounded by the well wishes, admiration and love of his fans.

  10. aceshigh11 - May 13, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Man, that just puts a lump in my throat. It’s not often that you read a statement from a public figure that is that brutally honest and moving.


  11. natstowngreg - May 13, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    When I see something like this, I’m reminded of the ’60s song “Abraham, Martin, and John,” about how the good die young.

  12. sagequest - May 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    When I was working my way through school driving a cab in Boston I had the pleasure of driving Mr. Killebrew from his hotel to Fenway Park. Us Sox fans both feared and admired him (those huge arms!), but as a person he was the nicest guy. We joked all the way to the ball park. We need more Marmon Killebrews in the game today. He will be missed by all baseball fans…

  13. sagequest - May 13, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Oops, Harmon!!

  14. 1historian - May 13, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    His battle is indeed coming to an end, and he is winning it – death is an impostor.

  15. cusoman - May 13, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Hard news to take, grew up viewing this guy as quite the legend and in his post-career days he proved to be just as legendary. I think I might have to take a trip to the Mall of America today and pay my respects to the red chair from old Met’s home plate.

    Prayers for Harmon and his family for a peaceful and joyous time left on this earth. There won’t ever be another like The Killer.

  16. motherscratcher23 - May 13, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    This is sad news for baseball. I’m happy to read that Killebrew seems to be at ease and is surrounded by those important to him.

    As far as his playing days goes…The Fat Kid sure could rake, couldn’t he?

  17. ausince68 - May 13, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I became an A’s fan in ’63, and no one in the AL was more feared than the one-man wrecking crew known as Killer. Much admired off the field as well, he earned everyone’s respect. I hadn’t heard he was in this condition, so yes, it’s sad to learn. But he handles it with the dignity he’s been known for. Wish him and his family peace in the process. I’m proud to say I have an auto’d pick of him, Willie and Mickey. It’ll be more special, knowing of this.

  18. wildddkattt80 - May 13, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    You were a great player and you ARE a great human being! May God welcome you.

  19. danberman4 - May 13, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    I always looked forward to seeing Killer play when he came to Milwaukee. A great player and a great man. It’s such sad news.

  20. bc666 - May 13, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Such a wonderful human being. Even while facing his own death his statement shows the quality of the man that he is. Being an Angels fan I was able to hear him as a broadcaster for a short time and his love of the game always showed. It’s such a pity that the media showers so much attention on the likes of a Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Conseco, McGuire, Sosa and others like them who ruin the game with their actions on and off the field while they hardly pay attention to the true greats of not only the game of baseball but the true greats that are human beings like Harmon Clayton Killebrew.

    Rest peacefully “Killer”

  21. philosofly - May 13, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    To the man with the greatest surname in all of baseball, we, as fans, salute you. to the man who did it the right way, and did it well, we love you. To the man who was the hero of my father and grandfather, we’ll never forget you! You are a legend, and legends never die! Baseball is Harmon Killebrew to many generations of fans and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Our thoughts and hearts go out to you, Mr. Killebrew. Our best wishes are sent to your wife, your family and your friends.

    To a ballplayer who played the game from the bottom of his heart, to a ballplayer who didn’t make millions of dollars… yet, didn’t complain about the salaries of today’s players, to a human being in his darkest moment facing the fear many of us carry… you are an inspiration to us all.

    We love you Harmon Killebrew, thank you for all the great memories, the class and the example you set for all the world to see. We’ll miss you.

  22. pisano - May 14, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    A great ballplayer and human being, God be with you Killer, you’ll be missed and you’ll always be remembered.

  23. cup0pizza - May 14, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    I hope his final days are as peaceful as possible. Proud he is a fellow Idahoan. Best wishes.

  24. Albie Jarvis - May 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    A Red Sox fan’s thoughts on the great Harmon Killebrew

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