A white rabbit with pink eyes appeared in my driveway two weeks ago. It was a tame rabbit and quite lost.
My property is far removed from suburbia, so I have no idea how he arrived where he did. He stuck out like a sore thumb and would have been better suited for the snowy Arctic, rather than a southern lane lined with kudzu, poison ivy and wild roses.
He reminded me of the three white bunnies my brother, sister and I got one Easter when we were little…and, oddly, of baseball. Weird, I know, but bear with me.
After we had eaten our jelly beans and a couple of chocolate malted eggs that Easter morning, we settled down to name our new pets. It only took about 10 minutes. Their names were “Cherry Blossom,” “Apple Blossom” and “Harmon Killebrew.”
For the unenlightened, hoppin’ Harmon was named after my brother’s hero, a powerful home run slugger for the American League in the 1960s. We had recently moved away from River Falls, Wisc. – not far from The Twin Cities, the home of the Minnesota Twins, whom my brother Glenn loved. In particular, he worshipped Harmon Clayton Killebrew, who had hit 49 homers the previous season, driving in 140 runs and garnering the MVP Award.
…Naming his new rabbit “Harmon Killebrew” was the sincerest form of flattery.
My brother played baseball, so I did too. He charted each game he watched on TV, so I learned as well. He got sports books for his birthday and Christmas as gifts, and although I loved horse books more, I read his baseball stories – because to me a book was a book. I read whatever I could get my hands on…plus my brother was my hero.
He’s still an avid sports fan today, and he still likes to read. My parents were wise, giving each of us books tailored to our interests. They fed our passions and hobbies, while promoting literacy in a natural way. Our interests expanded and so did our reading material. I followed my parents’ example with my children, and they are both book lovers with a broad range of interests and a penchant for learning.
I was lucky enough to meet Harmon Killebrew as a first grader in the clubhouse after a game (back in the days when players sold cars and real estate in the off season to make ends meet) as a Washington Senator before Calvin Griffith moved all my local heroes (Harmon, Camilo Pascual, Roy Sievers, Bob Allison and others) to Minnesota. As huge and frightening as he might have been to a kid, he was as friendly and nice as possible (and the Nats had lost that day). I bumped into Mr. Killebrew about 25 years later at a banquet and he was just as personable to an adult. I followed him for years and to a person, everyone spoke of his down to earth nature and what a wonderful (albeit, quiet) role model he truly was. Your brother picked the right guy to pull for.