Harmon Killebrew, the Minnesota Twins slugger who died Tuesday, turned out to be a friend of credit unions who leant his celebrity and personal charities to an industry cause—the Texas relief effort aiding victims of Hurricane Ike.
In an email to Texas credit unions on Thursday, Richard Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League, expressed his sorrow at Killebrew’s death, citing the baseball legend’s swift and unheralded support for various fundraisers which drew top sporting names to TCUL events.
“Harmon Killebrew became a hero to Texas credit unions,” wrote Ensweiler, detailing Killebrew’s unsolicited response to a 2008 email distributed to friends and associates describing the Gulf Coast devastation, homelessness and misery of CU employees.
“Harmon called me up and asked what he could do,” recalled Ensweiler. “I was amazed that this big-time guy, with so many other charities and groups he has dedicated his post baseball career to helping, would be moved enough to offer to help.”
Within days Killebrew had helped with funding and lining up baseball stars for a CU-run Dallas golf charity outing
“In six weeks from conception, the event was held at the Cowboys Golf Club and Harmon brought, among others Ozzie Smith, Tim Worrell, Frank Quilici, Frank Kostro, Charlie Pride, Eddie Bonine and several Rangers including Kevin Millwood, Cameron Loe and Jim Sundberg,” said Ensweiler.
The event was “all we could hope for,” said Ensweiler noting players posed for pictures signed baseballs lending the event special stature, also netting $60,000 for the foundation.
His willingness to help “typified Harmon and the way he lived his life. Every day he seemed to find a way to affect peoples' lives in a positive way. I heard a sportscaster say, ‘Harmon Killebrew made a difference. He was relevant.”’
Killebrew was 74 and died in Scottsdale, Ariz.