Justin Morneau finished 2008 with a whimper. In the offseason, he was cold-called with some advice. It was a call worth taking:
Reluctantly, he answered the phone, and a voice brightened his day: “Hi Justin, it’s Harmon Killebrew.” “He knew I was down after we lost,” Morneau said. “He knew I blamed myself for everything, and he just told me: ‘It was a great year. You did a great job. Don’t worry about what didn’t happen.’ That was pretty cool. He’s probably the nicest Hall of Famer you’ll ever meet.” Killebrew, 72, spent more time talking to Morneau recently on his annual spring training visit. Morneau, who has hit 34, 31 and 23 home runs the past three seasons, asked Killebrew for tips on hitting more.
Killebrew gave Morneau the same advice Killebrew once received from Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.
“When I was a young player, I hit for a high average and hit the ball all over the ballpark,” Killebrew said. “One year in spring training, I think I was 18 or a little older, Kiner came up to me and said, ‘Kid, you’re never going to hit a lot of home runs consistently if you don’t pull the ball. That doesn’t mean you pull every pitch, but to hit home runs consistently, that’s what you have to do.’ “
Kiner also suggested standing closer to home plate.
According to the article, Morneau is basically ignoring Killebrew on this point, even if he is doing so in the most polite way possible. Which is a shame, really, because though I don’t know that I’ve seen enough of Morneau to say if he could actually become a Killeresque hitter one day, he’d be a far more interesting player if he tried.