The hail storm at Target Field last week must have been a sign that this would be a very tough week. Minnesota sports fans have had a week of grieving and sadness. Death is always tough but even tougher when the person was beloved and an inspiration to all of us. This past week, sports fans saw two great and friendly pro players pass away into sports heaven: Derek Boogaard, a former NHL and Wild player, and Harmon Killebrew, a Twins great, died within days of each other.
On May 13, Boogaard, who was 28, was found dead by family members in his downtown Minneapolis apartment. His death is still pending, but Boogaard suffered a season-ending concussion last year while playing with the New York Rangers. He played for the Minnesota Wild for five seasons, but scored just two goals. Boogaard was more of an enforcer on the ice and he racked up a whole lot of penalty minutes. Even though he was tough on the ice, he was a gentle giant off the ice. Boogaard had a soft heart for fans and was always friendly off the ice. Fans held a memorial at the Xcel Energy Center May 15. “Boogey-man” will be missed a lot.
Four days after Boogaard’s unexpected death, one of the most beloved players in Major League Baseball died. Harmon Killebrew, who was 74 and an 11-time all-star, passed away May 17 in his home in Arizona. Since December, “The Killer” had been battling esophegeal cancer and it sadly won this week. Killebrew, who knew his days were numbered, decided to enter hospice care on Friday. Fans placed flowers and cards by his statue on Target Plaza the past few days. The Hall-Of-Famer had 573 home runs and 1,584 RBI in his career. During his amazing 21-year career, Killebrew belted forty or more home runs in eight different seasons! He was awarded the American League MVP award in 1963 and the Twins retired his number three. In 1984, Killebrew was inducted into Baseball’s Hall Of Fame.
Off the field, Killebrew was a great person who served his community. He founded the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, which helps people with disabilities play ball. Killebrew made a life goal on helping and improving lives for the disabled. For a couple of years, he has held a fundraiser to raise money for accessible fields. Killebrew loved seeing kids with disabilities play baseball. He will be dearly missed by the disabled community.
The Twins will commemorate Killebrew this season. His number three is already etched behind second base at Target Field. The Twins are going to wear their old-style uniforms from 1965 at all home games this year. Killebrew’s number three will appear on the sleeves of the uniforms. Killebrew’s famous autograph will be engraved on the outfield wall. Killebrew’s funeral will be held this Friday in Arizona. A public memorial service will be held on May 26 at 7 p.m. at Target Field.
On this somber day, I am going to leave you with a picture that was taken last May of Sam, Harmon, and me during a fundraiser in the 573 Club of Target Field. We will miss you, Harmon. You will be in our memories forever. Rest in peace. We will never forget you and you will be in Twins Territory for infinity.
Written by: Michael L. Sack