When I was doing research for this list of the ten best All-Star performances in Twins history, I was actually surprised at how few of Rod Carew's many, many, many appearances couldn't really be qualified as all that great. A couple of them were good. But Harmon Killebrew? He had plenty of good All-Star games.
In the summer of 1964 Killebrew was en route to his third consecutive home run title, also his fourth in six years. While he would never hit 50 in a season, he did hit 49 twice. This would be the first time. At the break though, he had 30. Oddly enough he only had four doubles, so that's fun.
Killebrew was getting his second start in four appearances in the mid-summer classic, batting cleanup in left field, hitting behind Mickey Mantle. Teammates Tony Oliva (batting second) and Bob Allison (fifth) were also in the starting lineup.
1964 would be the second in an eventual ten-year streak where the National League owned their counterparts. But Harmon wouldn't make it easy, playing a major role in giving his squad their opportunity to win. While Oliva and Allison combined to go 0-for-7, he was hitting the hell out of the NL's best pitchers.
Killebrew got started early, delivering in his first at-bat by scoring Jim Fregosi off Don Drysdale with a single, giving the AL a 1-0 lead. An infield single in the fourth would be wasted.
By the top of the sixth the National League had struck back and was leading 3-1. After Oliva struck out to kick off the inning, Mantle singled in his only hit of the ballgame. Right behind him was Killebrew who singled in his third straight at-bat. Allison flew out to Willie Mays in center for out number two, but Brooke Robinson tripled into the right-center field gap, scoring both Mantle and Killebrew and tying the game at three.
A National League rally in the ninth plated four runs, giving them a walk-off victory thanks to a three-run blast from pinch hitter Johnny Callison. But before the complete implosion from Dick Radatz (who would never be back to the All-Star game and really wasn't ever the same pitcher after that season), Killebrew had played a key role in two of the three American League rallies. The only other AL position player with a higher WPA for the game was Brooks Robinson, thanks to his clutch two-run triple.
Another all-time Twins great is on the list at #6 tomorrow, but as the only Twin on this list more than once we'll see Killebrew again later.