Yes, Killebrew stroked titanic blasts on consecutive days in June 1967. This writer is working on a second book—documenting the glory years of the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s—and here’s an excerpt about those two long home runs:
On June 3, a breezy Saturday afternoon with the Angels in town, Killebrew drilled what is regarded the longest home run ever hit at Metropolitan Stadium. Facing 40-year-old Lew Burdette in the fourth inning, the Twins slugger turned on a pitch and drove it several rows into the Met’s upper deck in left field, a mighty blast that cleared the roughly 30 rows of lower-deck bleacher seats situated in front of the upper deck’s façade.
The scoreboard’s Twins-O-Gram quickly listed the homer as a 430-foot shot, measuring it to the point it landed. Considering the second deck stood more than 70 feet above ground level, the ball would have traveled some 520 feet, according to a projection calculated by Twins executives Bill and Sherry Robertson. The Twins acknowledged this first home run to reach the Met’s upper deck by painting the seat red. While the Met is gone, the chair remains suspended at its original location within the walls of the Mall of America.
“It was a knuckleball of all things,” Killebrew said of the pitch from Burdette, the longtime Milwaukee Braves righty who had won three games in the 1957 World Series, including Game 7. “He told me later it was the only knuckleball that he threw all year. I don’t know. Maybe it was a wet one, but it looked like a knuckler.” Wet or not, the upper-deck shot wasn’t the longest of his career. In August 1962, he powered a pitch from future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium. Whether Killebrew’s homer off Burdette was the longest ever hit at Metropolitan Stadium became a point of contention the very next day.
When Killebrew stepped to the plate in the second inning against Angels righty Jack Sanford, Twins public address announcer Bob Casey informed the crowd that the previous day’s home run was a 520-foot blast and the seat it struck would be retired. Before Casey had finished speaking, Killebrew stepped into Sanford’s first-pitch slider and drove it off the facing of the upper deck in left-center field, one section over toward center from the ball he’d hit the day before. The point of impact was measured at 434 feet, four more than Saturday’s home run, and projections estimated the two homers would have traveled nearly the same distance.
Teammates debated which would have gone the greatest distance. Mudcat Grant told the Minneapolis Tribune’s Tom Briere that “the one hit Saturday was hit more on the line and would have traveled farther.” Earl Battey insisted that Sunday’s would have carried farther than Saturday’s. What did Killebrew think? “I think the second one would have gone farther,” Killebrew said in a 2010 interview. “It was actually hit harder.”
The second one provided some vindication for Burdette, the pitcher who coughed up the first blast. He confirmed Killebrew had teed off on a knuckleball during a conversation with Steve Aschburner, the author of the 2012 biography, Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger. “I was practicing my knuckleball, trying to come up with a new pitch,” Burdette told Aschburner. “I threw Harmon one. He swung and missed. So I threw him another one. The wind was blowing out, and he hit a towering flyball. You should have heard Jack Sanford. He was cracking up in the dugout. He yelled, ‘Nice going, Lew—you just gave up the longest homer in the history of the park.’ The next day Harmon hit one off Sanford in the upper deck. I wish I could tell you what I told him.”