I don't want to make anything more of this than it was - I didn't know him personally, he wasn't my favorite player or on my favorite team.
But he occupied a place in my childhood, as the 1968 Topps baseball card of mine (right) testifies. I knew who he was, of course. He was a mighty, mighty home run hitter, Paul Bunyanesque even, which is appropriate for an athlete tearing up the field in Minnesota. A terrific hitter and, by all accounts, a terrific person, which is good.
And yet, there is something very sad about Killebrew's death to me, something I can't quite put my finger on, but I have a notion what it is. I suppose what's bugging me can be summed up by critics as the usual sentimental and superstitious tripe that effervesces from a Christian worldview.
I have no desire to be maudlin, to drum up emotions that aren't there or even necessary. Something is just bugging me, that's all. Killebrew's death is sad and I hope his family finds comfort in the days to come. It is sad because another man whose work I admired as a child became old enough to die and that means the clock is ticking. For everybody. Maybe I'm just sobered by the brevity of life and the certainty of its end.
And maybe I'm sobered by the idea that being a terrific person isn't enough when the end comes.