Killer advice

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.

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  1. Alex C said...

    He’s probably the nicest Hall of Famer you’ll ever meet.

    And Stan Musial cries a single tear underneath the bleachers.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Based on everything I’ve heard, Musial and Killebrew could face each other in a nice-off for 40 days and 40 nights and still nothing would be decided.  Each one of them eats humility and politeness and poops magnimity and modest charm.  My one brush with Stan Musial confirmed that with him, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t true with Killebrew as well.

  3. bpasinko said...

    Have to say I was surprised to see Morneau only hit 23 homers last year.  I was even more surprised when I checked his b-ref page and was reminded how he finished 2nd in the MVP.  Then again surprised to see Dye finishing ahead of Mauer in MVP voting in 06.

  4. Bill said...

    Killebrew does seem like a genuinely nice guy.

    I wonder if they’re both kind of missing the point, though. Killer walked about 100 times per 162, and Morneau only manages about 60. How about: stand wherever the hell you want to, but try to mainly swing only at pitches you can pull? It seems to me that Killebrew’s greatest strength was only swinging at pitches he could hit really hard (or go down trying).

    From watching him every day, it’s hard for me to believe there’s a hitter in the American League with more natural power than Morneau…it’s fine to want to spray the ball over the park and whatever, but if you’ve got his talent and you hit 23 HR in 163 games, you’re doing it wrong.

  5. Detroit Michael said...

    George Kell just died, so if you say that Killebrew was the nicest living Hall of Famer, I won’t quibble!

    Nice headline, by the way.

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