Here Rests Idaho’s Greatest Athlete and a Great Man
He was the pride of Idaho. A few years ago I was having a conversation with Governor Butch Otter. The former Governor is a sports fan. I told him I believed NFL Hall of Fame guard Jerry Kramer was the best athlete to ever come out of Idaho, although. He was born in Montana and Kramer didn’t arrive here until he was four years old.
Otter was on the telephone in his office and told me he begged to differ. He explained he had a baseball bat next to him. It was a personal gift from Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew was one of the most dominant power hitters in Major League Baseball history. He was a star for the Washington Senators and remained the biggest draw when the club moved to Minnesota and became the Twins.
Harmon Killebrew played the game for fun.
The baseball star never forgot his roots. He’s buried in a hometown cemetery in Payette. There are no glaring lights and no signs offering directions. You simply wander until you see the headstone. It’s near the back of the burial ground.
Modern athletes are often described as being self-absorbed. We should point out that many are good and solid citizens. Only a few make all the wrong headlines.
Harmon Killebrew played the game for fun. There were no massive free-agent contracts until the very end of his career and he stayed put with the franchise where it all began until his final year in baseball. He played his final season in Kansas City but by that point, his skills had slipped.
He was good to his hometown and he gave generously to his old school and civic causes. His likeness is all over town. At the Payette County Museum, there’s a display in his memory. Some of the older volunteers have fond personal memories. They directed me to his gravesite (it’s not easy to find if you’re a first-time visitor).
Before the weather takes a turn for winter, I would highly recommend you drop by and pay your respects. It’s a day trip including a stop for lunch.
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