Harmon Killebrew, the Hall-of-Fame slugger who broke in with the Washington Senators as an 18-year-old prodigy, died today after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 74.
Though Killebrew hit 465 of his 573 career home runs with the Twins and became one of Minnesota's most-famous athletes, he was a Senator first, playing in the District from 1954-1960 before the franchise relocated.
The Nationals included Killebrew last summer as one of the charter members of their Ring of Honor at Nationals Park, joining other Senators, Grays and Expos greats.
Upon learning he was ending his cancer treatment and entering hospice treatment at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., over the weekend, the Nationals hung a No. 3 Killebrew jersey in their dugout.
"For baseball fans and Washingtonians, there was a distinct sadness felt today with the passing of Harmon Killebrew," Nationals managing principal owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "Our family and the Nationals organization were honored to host Harmon for a game last season at Nationals Park. We shall long treasure that evening and the gentlemanly impression left by Harmon.
"A Hall of Fame inductee in 1984, Harmon's contributions to the game of baseball are bountiful and lasting. While Harmon was best known for his days with the Minnesota Twins, our organization takes great pride in baseball's storied history in D.C., and Harmon plays a large role in that legacy. I will always remember his first 84 big league home runs came while playing for the Senators from 1954-60.
"It is the fond memories of Harmon and his days with Senators that added fuel to Washington's desire to reclaim a Major League franchise. For this, Washingtonians will be forever grateful."