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I have friends in high places. How’s that for a changeabout from Garth Brooks’ best selling song?
But it’s true. I have been blessed to have friends and acquaintances who have been successful in their many diverse careers. One of the luxuries of being successful is one often meets people of note–celebrities.
However, I have learned over the years that the more successful you are, the less likely you are to be a name dropper. And I like that.
My friends are actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and businessmen, and while they often rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the world, especially in their respective industries, they don’t crow about it.
Often I have to pry it out of them who they know, let alone get them to share a personal story about them.
And there are regular people who like to name drop too about local “celebrities” being their friends, whether it’s an elected official or a vast landowner.
Alas, that’s another story for another day.
This one is my own name dropping experience, if you will allow.
About 13 years ago, I was the only journalist available at my small newspaper to cover a media event at the Ty Cobb Museum, right there in our own little hamlet of Royston, Ga.
Harmon “Killer” Killebrew was coming to town to tour the museum and add a little panache to our sleepy, little burg.
So I ran home, grabbed my two baseball enthusiasts sons and took off to get a picture of Hammerin’ Harmon–just a photo.
But it was more.
I did my job first, catching him with one of the museum curators or something, and then I asked him if he would mind signing autographs for my boys.
He did more.
He actually leaned over and had a real, albeit short, conversation with them, before signing baseballs and allowing me to take a lot of photos for our scrapbooks.
He was no more a killer or a hammer than I was. He was a quiet, polite man who genuinely cared about people, especially little boys who only knew him from history books or ESPN news specials.
And so when he died May 17 from esophageal cancer, though he never smoked or drank, I was saddened. He was a true gentlemen, a celebrity who never got bogged down in himself, still the small town Idaho boy who just happened to be blessed with athletic ability.
And shouldn’t that be the way we all are?
Harmon Killebrew may not be a household name, but he is in my household.
I hope his kindness and caring are something my boys will emulate now as young men and forever when they are successful men.
And I hope they drop his name when the subject of real hero is discussed.