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Harmon Killebrew, Derrick Boogaard, Seve Ballesteros: Remembered

Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

Harmon Killebrew died today.  Sadly, the hall of famer’s passing is the third notable sports death this month, joining golf great Seve Ballesteros and New York Ranger Derrick Boogaard.

Harmon Killebrew was 74.  His death today in Arizona ended a long battle with esophageal cancer.  Killebrew played 22 years in the bigs and is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Minnesota Twin of all time.  He was the very definition of a slugger.  A clutch, muscular home run hitter whose tape-measure home runs, rather than batting average, became his calling card.  His 573 home runs puts him 11th on the list of all-time home run hitters.  By all accounts Killebrew was as good a man as he was a ball player.  The passing of “The Killer,” as he was called, has brought about a flood of emotion and memorable stories from the Twins, Twins fans and the baseball world in general.

Last week the hockey world suffered a sudden, shocking loss.  Derrick Boogaard, 28, died in his apartment in Minnesota.  The New York Ranger, former Minnesota Wild, enforcer had missed much of this past season with concussion and shoulder injuries. The 28 year old was a fan favorite because of his tough-as-nails exterior juxtaposed with his nice guy interior.  The hockey world has exploded with love for the man affectionately known as “The Boogeyman.”  His surprising death, the cause of which is still unknown, has shocked the hockey world into sadness.

David Cannon, Getty Images

Golfing great Seve Ballesteros died earlier this month, succumbing to a long fight with brain cancer.  His death took the three time Open champion and two time Masters champion at the too young age of 54.  By all accounts, Ballesteros was the pioneer of European golf.  He was one of the first great risk takers on the course and changed European golf much the way that Arnold Palmer did in America.  Seve’s passing was mourned across Europe, especially in Spain where he is considered a legend.  The world of golf will miss this great.

These are three sad stories that have hit the sports world at relatively the same time.  Three great sports figures from three different sports taken from us at the same time. One man taken in the twilight of his life, another taken after his professional days were done – but still very much in the prime of his life, and the last taken in the prime of his career.

Sports is such a fickle thing.  We spend so much time breaking down the smallest, most minute detail that all too often we lose focus on the big picture.  Also all too often, it takes tragedy to make us re-focus.  If there is to be something taken from the tragic passing of these three great men it is this: never lose focus of what sports is.  It’s an escape, a chance to step back from the negatives of life and experience some uncorrupted joy.  Cherish what you have, in life and in sports, when you have it.  Talent fades.  Grace leaves us and eventually father time catches us all – far too early in some cases.  With these facts in mind it’s important, in the sporting perspective, to appreciate your favorite athletes when you can – because in the case of Derrick Boogaard, they could be taken from us at any moment.

Harmon Killebrew, Derrick Boogaard, Seve  Ballesteros.  Three athletes.  Three men who have left this world, but who’s accomplishments and legacy will live on for years to come.  Rest in Peace.

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