Born in Payette, Indiana, Killebrew was drafted by the Washington Senators and moved rapidly to the major leagues, making his debut in 1954 at the age of 18. He played only small parts fo five seasons before finally sticking in 1959, hitting 42 homers. The Senators moved to Minneapolis to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
Killebrew was a stocky (5'11, 210 pounds) hitter with a short, violent swing that generated tremendous power. (It is believed his silhouette inspired the current Major League Baseball logo.) Nicknamed "Killer" for his home run hitting ability, Killebrew became the American League's most feared power hitter of the 1960s, belting 40 homers in a season seven times. In 1965 he helped the Twins reach the World Series where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Killebrew had his finest season in 1969, hitting 49 home runs, driving in 140 RBI, and winning the Most Valuable Player Award. Killebrew led the league in home runs six times, in RBI three times, and was named to eleven All Star teams.
Despite his "Killer" nickname and his powerful style of play, Killebrew was in fact a quiet, kind man who was not much given to the partying lifestyle enjoyed by his peers. Asked once what he liked to do for fun, Killebrew replied, "Well, I like to wash dishes, I guess."
Injuries reduced his effectiveness in the early 1970s, and after a brief stint with the Kansas City Royals he chose to retire. Killebrew hit 573 home runs in his career (seventh best all time, as of 2003) and drove in 1,584 runs. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.
Following his retirement, Killebrew became a successful entrepreneur in insurance, financial planning, and car sales. In 1990 he retired from business to pursue endorsement and charity work, especially in the fields of preventive and palliative health care charities and causes.