Even taking his struggles with batting average into account, Harmon Killebrew remains one of the greatest and most underrated hitters in Baseball history.
Through the first 5 years of his Hall of Fame career, Killebrew had just 254 at-bats for the Washington Senators; he seemed to be a half-decent bench player but not much else.
All of this, however, changed in 1959, when the 11-time All-Star earned the starting job for Washington and never looked back. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time that season, finishing '59 with an AL-high 42 homers and 105 RBI despite a .242 average.
In an era that featured numerous Hall of Fame hitters playing alongside Killebrew, I believe his lackluster .256 career average leaves something to be desired.
That stat, nevertheless, shouldn't take away from the fact that Killebrew had to play 1st/3rd base whereas, today, a slugger with a batting average similar to his could be the team's DH so the hitter could concentrate more on his swing.
Killebrew's incredible 573 career home runs put him at #12 on the all-time list, trailing Mark McGwire by a mere 10 dingers. He's also one of the first players I ever collected along with Duke Snider, Catfish Hunter, and Ivan Rodriguez.
Currently, my Harmon Killebrew player collection is only 1 card away from Gold Tier status. At 99 cards, it's incredibly likely that this Monday's Mansfield show will give this PC the boost it needs to reach the 100-card total.
In the meantime, here are my carefully-chosen 5 favorite cards in the Harmon Killebrew player collection.
#5 1973 Topps
It was a toss-up between Killebrew's 1972 and 1973 Topps and which one I'd select for my top 5. However, after much consideration, I decided that the unique '73 Topps card was more deserving of the #5 spot on my countdown.
The angle at which the photo was taken is incredibly unusual, something I rarely see on Baseball cards. It reminds me of Xander Bogaerts' 2016 Topps Archives card, for those of you who know what I'm talking about.
The greatest thing about this card, however, is that it excites me, something that a sizeable number of 1973 Topps cards fail to do. I find myself looking in a million directions when I glance at this card, and that's an excellent trait for practically any Baseball card to have.
For one reason or another, Topps incorporated a significant number of photographs just like the one above in the 1970 Flagship set; images that show players selecting a bat from the bat rack in their team's dugout. In fact, these photos are so prevalent that they've become synonymous with the set itself.
Although Killebrew's card isn't the best version of these bat rack photographs, that doesn't take away from how classic this vintage card is. Both the image and set design are simple yet complex at the same time if that makes sense.
The card may not be as unique as the one from '73 Flagship, but it's stellar nevertheless.
#3 2016 Topps Stadium Club
The only card on this list not from the 50s-70s, Killebrew's 2016 Topps Stadium Club card is truly stunning; the caliber of photography, even for Stadium Club, is virtually unmatched by anything that I've ever seen before.
It's just a shame that Killebrew has so many standout vintage cards because I could easily see the '16 Stadium Club card making the top 2 otherwise. The minimalistic set design complements the black and white photo extraordinarily well, and I'm thrilled that Topps chose to feature the 1969 AL MVP as a member of the Washington Senators rather than the traditional choice, the Minnesota Twins.
#2 1959 Topps
This isn't my only vintage card of Killebrew on the Washington Senators, but it's undoubtedly the greatest of the limited bunch. Not only do I love the 1959 Topps set, but the card's condition, aside from the centering, is excellent, especially for a card that's 60 years old.
The superb condition is thanks to the fact that I purchased this card myself at a show a few years back. I ended up paying just $10 for what was and remains the oldest card in my Harmon Killebrew player collection; another simple yet marvelous vintage card, featuring an awesome Washington Senators logo in the bottom lefthand corner.
#1 1962 Topps Killebrew Sends One Into Orbit
Even though I have Killebrew's actual 1962 Topps base card in my collection as well, this highlights card is unlike anything else that I've seen from Topps in the 1960s. Yes, they've created a few different combos, highlights, or record breakers cards, but nothing quite as spectacular as this.
The 3 different pictures show the progression of Killebrew's home run swing. There are a few other players included in this subset, but Killebrew's is easily my favorite.
Plus, as if the 3 images weren't enough, the famous wood borders of the 1962 Topps set add another special element to this beautiful card.
It's not often that I say this, but I can't seem to find something wrong with this 1962 Topps card, making it a no-brainer for the #1 spot.