And We Have a WINNER!

We have a conclusion to our Harmon Killebrew biography contest!

Our poll asked for people to pick their favorite title for a hypothetical biography of Jim Thome.

The winner came from AW with his submission: Jim Thome: Giant Among Men, Giant-Hearted Man.

He received twice as many votes as any other submission so I think that settles the question quite handily and means he wins his own copy of Ultimate Slugger!

AW – to get your prize, contact ERolfPleiss to make arrangements for it to be sent to you! CONGRATULATIONS!

Fun & Games are Over..

Last night’s game proved that the All Star break is done as we are back to Twins baseball as we know it. It was a very familiar outing..

However! To distract ourselves from less than enjoyable memories, we still have a BOOK to give away!! In contest Part I we asked for submissions for what to call a hypothetical memoir belonging to one Tater Mashin’ Jim Thome.

Part II means you get to vote on your favorite title submission – the person with the most votes, gets a free copy of the Steve Aschburner biography of Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger – courtesy of Triumph Books.

Here’s your choices:

I will release the results and announce the winner on Monday!

All Star Break Fun & Games!

BREAK TIME! After last night’s marathon game that ended so badly (and so late), I think Minnesota fans and players alike could definitely use the game vacation.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some fun anyway.

Not long ago, ERolfPleiss reviewed the biography of Harmon Killebrew by Steve Aschburner. THEN he sent it to me!! I’m so excited that I put down the book I was reading and have started it. We here at Knuckleballs would like you to be able to do the same thing! The folk over at Triumph Books have offered to provide copies of the book as prizes for any contests we care to run – which means it’s time to have one.

So I got this idea while hearing Steve interviewed on 1500 while he was in town for a book signing. If you want to listen to the interview itself, I highly recommend it. Go here and listen to Hour 2 on July 2nd.

As conversation proceeded, they discuss the fact that the forward is from Jim Thome who many say is often compared as the “Harmon Killebrew” of this generation because he is universally liked and considered the epitome of Gentleman Baseball. One question asked of Steve stood out to me. They ask him if now that he’s done Killer’s biography, if he’d consider doing one for Thome and if so, would he call it Ultimate Slugger II??

Gotta say boys over at 1500 – that’s just not a great title even if it might be appropos of something.

So here’s what I want from our readers for this contest:

Give us your best shot at what you would title a biography of Jim Thome. Leave your answers in the comments. You may offer as many suggestions as you like and you may comment on other suggestions. However, if you offer multiple suggestions, I will have you pick just one as your final submission. Deadline for submissions will be noon 6 pm on Wednesday, July 11th.  Then we’ll take all our submissions and put them into a user poll to be voted on by all the members of Knuckleballs! The highest vote getter will win a free copy of Harmon’s biography, Ultimate Slugger. If necessary, we’ll run a tie-breaker.

I am really intrigued to see what a bunch of creative/reader/writer people can come up with! Have at it folk!

Book Review: Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger

I recently received a review copy of Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger.  The book was written by Steve Aschburner with a foreword by Jim Thome and published by Triumph Books.

Steve Aschburner is a long time sports writer, covering all four major league sports and NCAA basketball.  His primary area of emphasis is NBA basketball, but between this book, and his 2008 work “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Minnesota Twins”, it is clear that he has a soft spot for America’s Pastime and the Minnesota Twins.

As a Twins fan not old enough to have seen Harmon Killebrew play for the Senators/Twins, nor old enough even to remember him calling games for the Twins on television, reading Ultimate Slugger provided an excellent opportunity to familiarize myself with one of the greatest men to ever play professional baseball.  Not only did I learn a lot about Killebrew, but I learned a lot about the game of baseball as it was played nearly 50 years ago.

The book is straight forward enough, it starts with a brief synopsis of Killebrew’s family lineage, includes some stories about Killebrew as a young kind, and then follows his career through his early days as a “Bonus Baby” in the 1950s right through his playing days and his strong presence with the Twins up until 2011.

The two things I liked best about Ultimate Slugger was the way Aschburner captured the spirit of Killebrew and the insights into Major League Baseball as it existed in the 50s and 60s.  Aschburner best captured Killebrew through interviews and stories from his life long friends.  He provided insight into the MLB gone-by with just enough statistical analysis to give you an idea of how the game was played and who the biggest players were, and throwing in some anecdotes that highlight the essence of the game.

One thing that particularly struck me was the story of how Harmon Killebrew’s first trip to the Major Leagues.  Killebrew joined the Washington Senators during a 19 game road trip.  A NINETEEN GAME ROAD TRIP (The Twins’ longest road trip in 2012 is 10 games, and that’s one of the longest road trips in MLB this year).  But when Killebrew joined the Senators on that road trip, it was not just the first time he’d been to a Major League game, but the first time he’d even seen a Major League stadium.  Because he was a “bonus baby” Killebrew did not have the benefit of Minor League seasoning, and his first two years he played sporadically, mostly being used as a pinch hitter or pinch runner.  Pretty interesting start for a man that would become an MLB icon.

The biggest drawback to the book is Aschburner’s writing style.  As a seasoned sports writer, his book reads more like a 230 page newspaper column than a regular biography.  Aschburner uses more than his fair share of hokey transitions and cliches to chronicle the life of Harmon Killebrew, but that’s really the only knock on the book.

If you’re a Twins fan looking to gain more insight into the life and stories that surrounded Harmon Killebrew you should definitely pick up a copy* of “Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger”.

*Knuckleballs will be running a contest during the upcoming All-Star break and giving away two copies of “Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger”.  Stay tuned!

WIN Twins tix by Wishing Joe Mauer a Happy Birthday!

 Almost everyone in Twins Territory knows by now that it’s Joe Mauer’s 28th birthday today.  Something about being a hometown boy makes his birthday close to a state holiday.

In celebration of the day, we here at Knuckleballs are giving away a pair of tickets to next Tuesday nights game, April 26th, against the Tampa Bay Rays.  We will be drawing names at the conclusion of tonight’s game.  The way to enter the drawing is to submit your best birthday haiku for Joe.  Anyone who submits a haiku in the comment section of this post is automatically included AND multiple entries are accepted.  The entries will be numbered drawn at random.

Rules for acceptable Haiku:

  • Only three lines, totaling 17 syllables throughout
  • The first line must be only 5 syllables
  • The second line must be comprised of 7 syllables
  • The third line must be 5 syllables like the first
  • Punctuation and capitalization rules are up to the poet, and need not follow rigid rules used in structuring sentences
  • Haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact many times it does not rhyme at all
  • Some haiku can include the repetition of words or sounds
  • haiku poetry typically discusses subjects from the natural world, including seasons, months, animals, insects, and even the smallest elements of nature, down to a blade of grass or a drop of dew

Again – this should be a birthday greeting for Joe Mauer so that should also be included in whatever creative way you can manage!  Have fun everyone!

And the winner is Haiku #1 from AW! (yes, I literally put them in a bowl and drew one out). Here’s the winning poem:

Happy Birthday, Joe.
Body slowing, legs are weak.
Getting old not fun.

AW, please email JimCrikket ASAP with your mailing address so that he can put the tickets in the mail to you.  Congratulations! If, for any reason, you are unable to attend the game, please let us know.