From Idaho To Stardom
Killebrew, born in Payette, Idaho, signed with the Washington Senators as a second baseman in 1954, a
week before his 18th birthday under the "bonus baby" rules in effect at the time. He made his major league debut that June, but did not crack the Senators' starting lineup for good until 1959, when he replaced the injured Pete Runnels. He tied Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians for the American League in home runs that year with forty-two.
In 1961, owner Calvin Griffith moved the Washington franchise to Minnesota and renamed it the Twins. Killebrew took advantage of dimensions in suburban Bloomington's Metropolitan Stadium that were amenable to right-handed power hitters and belted 188 homers in his first four seasons in the Twin Cities. He won the AL home-run titles in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
Killebrew's power, however, was feared everywhere. In 1962, he hit a ball completely over the left-field roof at Detroit's Tiger Stadium, a ballpark tough on right-handed, pull hitters. In 1967, he shattered two seats in the sixth row of the upper deck of Metropolitan Stadium with a homer estimated at 530 feet. One day later, another Killebrew home run nearly reached the same spot, hitting the upper-deck facing. "Killebrew can knock the ball out of any park, including Yellowstone," Baltimore Orioles manager Paul Richards said in the early 1960s.
Killebrew was moved to several positions during his career, playing primarily at third base and left field. "But Killer never groused and his lack of a permanent defensive spot never seemed to affect his power," according to the Web site Baseball Library.com.