Friday 13th May 2011

by monke

Dori Fiedler takes a picture of her son Cole, 8, along with Minnesota Twins great Harmon Killebrew during a visit to the young Minnesota Twins fan's home April 25, 2006, in Rothsay, Minn. Twins' players Mike Redmond, Michael Cuddyer and former player Dan Gladden were also part of the caravan to visit Cole in his room that was filled with Twins memorabilia. (Photo by Dave Walls/The Forum/Forum Communications Co.)

The old man rolled in unexpectedly and unannounced. Nobody knew he was coming — especially not the guest of honor.

But, when Harmon Killebrew stepped off the Twins Caravan bus and into the home of Rick and Dori Fiedler of Rothsay, Minn., on Jan. 25, 2006, he lit up the room.

There to visit young Cole Fiedler, a Type I spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) sufferer, Killebrew was his affable self. He was everywhere, talking to everyone. He didn’t seem 69 years old and he sure as heck didn’t have the aura of one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived.

“To come to a home like this, I think, is a pretty special thing to do,” Killebrew said during me interview.

That was the first and only time I got to meet and interview Killebrew, the Minnesota Twins great who announced Friday that he has chosen not to continue his fight with esophageal cancer and will seek hospice care.

Through my years as a sports reporter, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and interview several sports celebrities. What will forever stick out in my mind about Killebrew was that he just didn’t seem like all the rest.

Interviewing Bud Grant was like asking questions of a brick wall. Tommy Lasorda was over the top; he even made fun of my last name. Darryl Strawberry was … odd to say the least.

Killebrew just seemed like any other kindly old man you’d find anywhere in America. When you met him, you almost wanted to say, ‘This is guy who hit 573 homers and was a 13-time American League all-star? You’re kidding me, right?’

But, that’s what has made Killebrew great. That’s why his presence in the game of baseball has lived on so long after his playing days were past him. That’s why everyone in Twins Territory from the players to the fans, were broken up about Friday’s news that he had humbly and bravely resigned himself to the final days of his life.

Truly, No. 3 was a rare one. He was the kind of professional athlete we don’t have anymore. And while he isn’t gone yet, he has given those who know his legacy reason to pause and remember just how great of a man he really was.

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One Response to “Killebrew a one-of-a-kind man”

  1. Avatar of Rick Fiedler Rick Fiedler says:

    Yes Harmon Killebrew was a wonderful and caring person. I got to experience this first hand as Cole is my son. It gives me chills when I think this great slugger gave his time to stop at our house to visit our son. What better present could you give to a an 8 year old boy who loves the MN twins. We love you Harmon and thanks for impact you made on our family! God bless you and your family. Our prayers are with you! The Fiedler Family

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