SEATTLE -- The Minnesota Twins had a game on the schedule with the Mariners Tuesday but the thoughts of many players were in Arizona... mourning the passing of Harmon Killebrew, a man they considered both a mentor, and a friend.
"It's an extremely sad day, not just in Minnesota but in all of baseball. The world lost a great human being today," reflected Twins veteran Michael Cuddyer.
Cuddyer laughingly recalled a Winter Carivan trip he took with Harmon a number of years ago, a day that stays with him for a very good reason. "My autograph used to look like an EKG... it was terrible. It just looked like a bunch of squiggly lines. Harmon said, 'if that signature comes through my line one more time, I'm about to leave. The only person they're going to be mad at is you,'" Cuddyer remembered.
"From that day forward, I try to make my autograph legible every time I sign, no matter if it's for a kid, an autograph seeker, whatever the case is, I hear Harmon saying in the back of my head saying 'if you're going to take the time to sign this autograph, make sure people can read it."
It was that kind of professionalism that is sometimes lost on young athletes who collect big paychecks, but don't understand that giving back is part of the deal. Harmon Killebrew, through his one-on-one contact with players at spring training and through community appearances, was able to impart a bit of wisdom and professionallism, and help those athletes appreciate how truly fortunate they are.
"He cared more about others than he cared about himself, and any time a man can accomplish that and truly feel that way... you're doing things right," Cuddyer insisted. "He is the epitome of class, the epitome of professionalism. He's what you strive to be as a human being."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)