CHICAGO -- Rangers manager Ron Washington played for the Minnesota Twins for six of his 10 Major League seasons. He remembers a welcome presence around the club in those days: legendary slugger Harmon Killebrew.
Killebrew, 74, died on Tuesday morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a battle with esophageal cancer. Add Washington to the long list of the baseball community who offered glowing testimonials of the gentle giant.
"We've lost a great man," said Washington. "We've certainly lost an ambassador to baseball in the Minnesota area. I'm really at a loss for words, because Harmon was really a great man. He tried to help people once he finished playing the game. As a ballplayer and all his fellow ballplayers in the league had a lot of respect for him.
"It was just his time."
Killebrew played 14 seasons in the Twin Cities, and his 573 home runs made him the kind of transcendent type of player who could have been hard to approach. Washington remembers him as anything but.
"I played in Minnesota for six years and a lot of guys certainly looked forward to when he came down to Spring Training," said Washington. "He certainly didn't push himself on you, but he's the kind of guy that you just drew to. He had a lot of wisdom."