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on August 4, 2014
Harmon Killebrew, probably the most famous Minnesota Twin of all-time, which includes Kirby Puckett, was the ultimate gentleman on and off the field. Killebrew complemented umpires on their calls, even when they went against the Minnesota ball club. He was liked and respected around the league during and after his playing days. He visited sick kids, always took time to sign autographs, and was co-founder of an annual golf tournament to raise money for cancer research.

When he became a veteran, Killebrew served as a mentor to the younger players, especially in work ethic and how to deal with the media. He placed the team before himself and played at several positions—outfield, third base, and first base—often in the same season, whatever gave the Twins the best chance of winning. This came back to haunt him when he became eligible for election to the Hall of Fame. Some voters pictured him as a defensive liability which managers had to constantly move from position to position, trying to find a place where he would hurt the team the least. While not a great defensive ballplayer, Killebrew worked hard at this part of his game and, according to teammates, was anything but a burden defensively.

The author’s coverage of Killebrew’s baseball career is uneven, dealing with one year with only a couple of paragraphs. While the yearly individual stats and where the team finished in the standing are mentioned as well as the annual attendance figures and the slugger’s salary, the author highlights few individual games which is a mainstay of other baseball biographies.

The book’s strength lies in Killebrew’s post-baseball life. After failing to get the Minnesota manager’s job for 1976, Killebrew opened a car dealership, entered the insurance business, was a color analyst of televised baseball games (for the Twins, A’s, Angels, and Twins again), among other ventures. However, by the late 1980s, he was in trouble both financially and with his marriage. In the early 1990s he declared bankruptcy. The author asserts that Killebrew was too trusting of individuals and was therefore taken advantage of. The Twins shortly reached out to him, hiring him as a “special assistant” to do promotionals and to appear at spring training as a hitting instructor.

The author mentions Killebrew’s life-threatening illness in 1990 and his six-month recovery, nursed by his fiancée, whom he married the next year. 1990 was also the year of his divorce from his first wife. The timeline is unclear on the order of these events. The author mentions in passing that Killebrew became a Mormon in the 1960s. It would have been interesting to learn the circumstances behind his conversion and how his faith impacted the rest of his life, especially since some alluded to an affair as the reason for the 1990 divorce.

Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger is not the ultimate biography. The bibliography is limited to ten books, and while the author says that he talked with players and people who knew Killebrew, it would have been nice to have a list of the individuals. Quotes pepper this biography, but no citations are given, which limits the work’s value for those who want to explore parts of Killebrew’s career in more depth. Like a growing number of baseball biographies, this one does not have a table of career stats. Nevertheless, for someone interested in the life and career of Harmon Killebrew, this is the best place to start.
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When I first saw the dimensions of this book along with its rather short length, and the title "Harmon Killebrew--Ultimate Slugger" I thought this was a book better suited for middle school students and younger. This is not the case. This biography by Steve Aschburner can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages, adults as well as young people. How refreshing to read a sports biography minus the profanity that usually is part of the makeup.

Like all of us Harmon Killebrew had his faults, namely getting involved in bad investments which led him to declare bankruptcy. However, Killebrew left a positive imprint on those he came in contact with both in and out of sports. As an example he would tirelessly sign his autograph as long as there were those who were around to request it. More importantly he would sign his name so that it would be readable to the recipient. He then taught other members of the Minnesota Twins to do the same, namely Michael Cuddyer being one to take this advice to heart.

We all have had individuals who have positively influenced us in our lives. Two individuals on the baseball scene of note were Ossie Bluge, the former member of the Washington Senators who signed Killebrew, and Manager Cal Ermer.

Killebrew, contrary to his "Killer" nickname, was a soft-spoken and humble individual who went about doing his job without fanfare. His playing career with the Twins came to an unfortunate end when Owner Calvin Griffith told him the Twins could not pay him what he was requesting and told him he was free to sign elsewhere. Harmon admits his decision to sign with the Kansas City Royals for one year was a mistake due to the artificial surface on Royals' Stadium which damaged his already aching knees.

Harmon Killebrew passed away on May 17, 2011, from esophageal cancer. I found this book to be a refreshing biography about a player we don't often read about and suitable for all age groups.
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on June 29, 2012
Having been a baseball fan since the late 60's I had heard of Harmon Killebrew but it was just sort of the myth and legend of Killebrew. I was (and am) a Giants fan and didn't watch as many American league games except the ones that were on the game of the week on Saturday mornings.

In the early nineties I had a chance to meet him at a baseball card and autography show at the Cow palace in San Francisco. The line was long but he took the time to talk to everyone that came through the line and shook their hands This for me proved what I had heard about him being a nice man.

I have read a lot of baseball books that talk about what a kind and gentle man he is and this is no different and just reaffirmed everything I had heard about him.

Killebrew was drafted by the Washington Senators as a bonus baby which made it tough for him with the other veterans on the team because Killebrew was guaranteed a spot on the team for two years when the veterans would have to compete for a spot on the team. Remember this is during baseballs anti trust act and before free agency when the owners held all of the card to a players future.

Author Steve Aschburner takes the reader back to Killebrews childhood growing up in Idaho and Oregon. The book was written after Killebrews death but the reader gets a first hand view the Killebrew through interviews with his childhood friends all the way through the big leagues and up to his death. Many current players that passed through the Twins organization talked about how he influenced them from the way he carried himself on the field to signing an autograph legibly. Through these interviews and game recaps Aschburner paints a picture of Killebrew as a man first and as a ball player second. Killebrew was the man, the myth and the legend to me he's now just the man and the legend thanks to Aschburner

Very well written, There's a nice forward by Jim Thome. Aschburner filled in a lot of gaps for me about Harmon Killebrew. The writing style flows well and this is an easy read.
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on January 27, 2014
Harmon Killebrew is a subject worthy of a biography. Hats off to Mr. Aschburner for bringing this to the public. In many ways, this iconic Minnesota Twin was, and remains the face of this franchise, in much the same way that Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth remain iconic symbols of the New York Yankees. Yet Killebrew, who prowled the lineup during a generation of authentic sluggers was so much different, if not so much more.

Killebrew, whose nicknames "Killer", and "Harm", projected an aura of menace at the plate, which was at odds with his gentle, and gentlemanly nature.The stalwart in a lineup that had near greats like Bob Allison and Tony Oliva, and later Rod Carew, Killebrew was a rock solid presence, both in the locker room, and on the field.

Never one to grab headlines for his off the field exploits, Killebrew did not drink or carouse. He remained fan friendly, and was one of the few ballplayers who would seldom pass up an opportunity to sign an autograph. He played 22 seasons in the majors, the first few with Washington, before they moved to Minnesota, and the last with Kansas City.

After he retired, he became both an announcer, and an ambassador for the Twins. His influence on younger generations of ballplayers was prominent.

Mr. Aschburner is obviously a fan and admirer of the life of Harmon Killebrew. From the content of the book, it would be difficult not to be. He is well versed in baseball history, and in the statistical meaning of his subjects' exploits. Killebrew has been somewhat the forgotten man among baseball's elite. When he retired, he was fourth all-time among MLB's home run leaders. His achievements have been obscured by the shame of baseball's steroid era. Kudos to Mr. Aschburner for remembering one of baseball's greats, on and off the field.
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on April 18, 2017
Love it
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on February 22, 2014
I have a Twin Birthday with Harmon on June 29th. He was a great baseball hero for the Minnesota area for decades. His profile is the player in the MLB logo. He earned a place in history of the sport. The author chronicles many facets of his life and baseball times--easy reading--one of the best autobiographies of baseball.
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on July 16, 2014
Haven't finished reading this book yet. But I'm from Minnesota and Harmon is a legend here. Hard to find a better man in or out of baseball. He was a true ultimate slugger no steroids, and all class.
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on February 3, 2014
Yes, it's unfortunate that Harmon wasn't able to collaborate on an autobiography before his death, but this is inspirational and well written just the same.
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on February 9, 2014
If you loved 1950s and 1960s baseball, the Harmon Killebrew story is a great read. If you loved the Senators and Minnesota Twins, you'll enjoy this book.
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on March 30, 2013
easy reading. Captured the spirit of Harman. He has been a hero of mine since I saw him play with Washington Senators
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