No, this is not a paean to Jerry Lee Lewis, but to Harmon 'Killer' Killebrew, baseball Hall of Famer, who died on 17 May at age 74. Despite his nickname, Killebrew was the quintessential 'gentle giant', a nice guy.
He had Popeye-like forearms, allegedly produced by working on a farm carrying 10-gallon milk buckets while he was growing up in Payette, ID.
He was one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time, ranking 11th on the all-time list with 573. Not only did Killebrew hit a lot of home runs - 40 or more for eight seasons - but he hit them a long way. I remember seeing him hit a titanic shot at Yankee Stadium in 1959 or 1960. Even Mickey Mantle came out of the dugout to marvel at it.
He was even kind to umpires. Here is what umpire Ron Luciano said about Killebrew:
The Killer was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball history, but he was also one of the nicest people ever to play the game. He was one of the few players who would go out of his way to compliment umpires on a good job, even if their calls went against him. I'd call a tough strike on him and he would turn around and say approvingly, "Good call." And he was the same way in the field. And he never did this to get help on close plays, as some players do. The man hit 573 major league home runs and no umpire ever swung a bat for him.
He prided himself on his autograph - entirely legible. At autograph shows, his signature was crisp and clear, and he would chide others who scribbled their names.
Rest in peace, Harmon. We could use a few more like you these days. We won't soon forget your baseball exploits.
"Well, I like to wash dishes, I guess." -- Harmon Killebrew, when asked what he liked to do for fun.