Harmon Killebrew's Hall of Fame career as one of the most powerful sluggers baseball has known was merely a subplot to his story as family and friends gathered to say goodbye.
What they recalled most was Killebrew the gentle, caring man who treated all those he encountered with respect.
Several hundred mourners, including past and current members of the Minnesota Twins, attended Killebrew's funeral service yesterday at a church in Peoria, Ariz., north of Phoenix.
Killebrew, who hit 573 home runs in his long major league career, died Tuesday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., of esophageal cancer at 74.
The Twins were able to attend, because the ballclub was in Arizona for a weekend interleague series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Twins fell short in the opener, falling 8-7, to Arizona, despite home runs from Michael Cuddyer, Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe.
Former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven had those in attendance stand and cheer Killebrew for an imagined home run No. 574 near the end of the service, and the crowd responded with a rousing effort.
But Killebrew the man was celebrated far more than Killebrew the baseball player.
The nickname "Killer" didn't seem to fit a man so kind, said his grandson, Eric Queathem.
"In his modest and caring way, he always tried to make people feel good about themselves," Queathem said.
A private burial is planned Monday in Killebrew's hometown of Payette, Idaho. A memorial service is scheduled Thursday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Cuddyer, teammates Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau and manager Ron Gardenhire were pallbearers, along with ex-Twin Paul Molitor and former Killebrew teammates Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Frank Quilici. Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Frank Robinson also attended the service, which was open to the public.
Afterward, Cuddyer said it is his goal to "strive to be Harmon Killebrew."
"Strive to treat people the way he treated people," he said, "and make everybody feel comfortable, make everybody feel like they're special. For one of the biggest names in a sport to be able to make every single person he came into contact with feel special, that's a pretty big achievement."
Ryan Roberts drove in three runs for the Diamondbacks.
* The Cleveland Indians placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the 15-day disabled list with a strained side muscle.
* Tampa Bay activated lefthander J.P. Howell, a year and a day after he had surgery to repair a left shoulder injury that sidelined him all of last season.
* Toronto Blue Jays righthander Jesse Litsch was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder.
* Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he is not under investigation for verbally confronting umpires underneath the stands following a controversial call. He said he contacted Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's vice president of operations, but did not give specifics about the conversation.
* San Francisco Giants infielder Mark DeRosa has a partial tear of a tendon in his left (non-throwing) wrist and is scheduled to see a doctor next week. The former Penn quarterback was hurt Wednesday night when he checked a swing.
In interleague games:
* At Miami, Logan Morrison hit a game-tying homer in the fourth and doubled in the Florida Marlins' two-run eighth to help them beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.
* At Pittsburgh, Neil Walker homered and drove in a career-high five runs to lead the Pirates past the Detroit Tigers, 10-1. Jeff Karstens (3-2) retired the first 14 he faced and gave up just one run on three hits in six innings, striking out four without issuing a walk.
* At New York's Yankee Stadium, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey confounded the Yankees for six innings, Daniel Murphy homered and the Mets won the Subway Series opener, 2-1. Mark Teixeira homered for the Yankees, who have lost six straight at home for the first time since 2003.
* At Toronto, Chris Johnson hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Blue Jays, 5-2.
* At Kansas City, Jeff Francis (1-5) threw 7 solid innings to earn his first win of the season, leading the Royals to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
* At Baltimore, Danny Espinosa homered and drove in five runs, Jayson Werth hit two homers and had four RBI, and the Washignton Nationals routed the Orioles, 17-5. Roger Bernadina, Wilson Ramos and Laynce Nix also homered for the Nationals.
* At Boston, Adrian Gonzalez had four of Boston's 19 hits, adding four RBI as the Red Sox welcomed the Chicago Cubs back to Fenway Park for the first time since 1918 by beating them, 15-5.
* At Chicago, hits by Juan Castro, James Loney and Jay Gibbons sparked a three-run 10th inning and helped lift the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-4, over the White Sox.
* At Cleveland, rookie pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera bunted home Shin-Soo Choo from third base with two outs in the eighth inning, sending the Indians to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. *