Photo and Story by Gordy Jones
One of Harmon Killebrew’s last wishes before he passed away, last year, was that his three best friends and former teammates, Rod Carew, Frank Quilici, and Tony Oliva, ensure that Killebrew’s golf classic, which raises thousands annually for several children’s charities, will continue to thrive for many years. Harmon Killebrew wore number 3 on his uniform, and it’s his three best buddies who are carrying out his wishes — hence the name: Three for 3.
The event – held last week — began with a social hour, dinner, and a fund-raising auction at Target Field, which followed a day game against the White Sox. Harmon’s wife, Nita, graced the evening with a touching story in which she tracked down the writer of an autograph-request letter, who was asking for an autograph for her loving and dying daughter. Harmon never had a chance to reply, but Nita was determined to find this woman, even though the woman’s daughter had already died. After discovering the woman’s father’s name, she called a man with the same name, but it was the wrong guy. However, after hearing Nita’s story, the man with the same name joined in the search, and he was successful. They all became friends, and were Nita’s guests at the dinner.
Twins announcer Cory Provus did a nice job as MC, and many local “big hitters” were on hand. But there were more baseball people the following day at the golf outing. Joe Mauer played in a foursome with his brother Bill and a couple of his buddies. They took third place, followed by Glen Perkins, who was teamed up with the Twins’ media department.I had always heard from the players that Glen Perkins is quite funny; a real character. I never saw that side of him because around media, he always seemed to be tight-lipped. I think he is now more comfortable with himself and likes to have fun with whoever is around. On his days off, he has even joined the radio team during their broadcasts. He was hilarious a couple weeks ago as he made fun of bullpen coach Rich Stemaszek, who is in his seventies, and has the longest tenure with the Twins. Glen said “Stelly” has the greatest job in the world: Sitting in the pen and listening for the phone to ring. Glen said,”Sometimes he even hears it ring and will answer it.” He went on to tell how Rich will call people by the wrong name. Perkins recently told me he wants to get into broadcasting after baseball. Then he thought about it and said: “I’ll take any job that is offered.”
I told Joe Mauer that I was kind of surprised to see him at the golf outing on his rare day off. He smiled and said: “It’s a nice day, and I’d do anything for Harmon. He was a great guy. He put together a great tournament and still gives back. It’s a good day! I’m with my brother and good friends. Yep! It’s a great day.” I asked Joe if we’ll see another Mauer Tournament soon. Joe and his family hosted one for about seven years, but put it on hold to redesign the outing. “Yes, we have one in the works. It’s been a busy year, but we are working on one now.”
Other notable people at the event included: Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Paul Molitor, Rich Reese, Dick Stigman, Tom Kelly, and Ron Gardenhire.
At the end of the day, Joe Mauer’s and Glen Perkins’ competitive sides came out as they were razzing each other about their golf games. Suddenly Perkins exclaimed, “My foursome will take your foursome…one more hole.”
Soon all eight men were on the 18th tee box, and off they went, until Dustin Morse of the Twins’ media office, who was Perkins’ partner, sunk a 12-foot birdie putt to win the “19th” hole. Actually, all of those involved in Harmon’s event were winners!
The next day, June 29, was Harmon’s birthday, and his wife, Nita told me, he’s the one still giving gifts. “Every day he finds a way to touch my life, and every day there is some type of surprise…another gift from Harmon .”