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Former major-leaguers make stop in Temple for hospice foundation

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Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:28 am, Tue Aug 12, 2014.

By Tony Altobelli

Killeen Daily Herald

TEMPLE One of major league baseball's all-time greats came up to the plate and came through in the clutch for VistaCare Hospice Foundation.

The Harmon Killebrew Golf Classic took place on Monday at Wildflower Country Club.

Joining Killebrew for the event were former big leaguers Keith Moreland and Bob Horner as well as many local golfers looking for some fun on the golf course for a good cause.

"I've been a national spokesman for VistaCare for a number of years," Killebrew said. "I got involved with them because I dealt with some serious health problems 14 years ago. Once I saw the kind of work they provided, I knew this was something I had to get involved in."

The 68-year-old Killebrew hit 573 career home runs, seventh on the all-time career homer list, during his 21-year career spent with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.

"Comparing baseball now to when I played, I'm much happier I played when I did," Killebrew said. "There were so many unbelievable players in my era, it was an honor to be a part of it all."

These days, Killebrew can still be found in the Twins organization and can still be found rooting for his former ball club.

"I'm excited the way our team is playing," Killebrew said. "They're really playing some exciting baseball."

Moreland, 50, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles during his 11-year career, is now behind the microphone for the University of Texas as a color commentator.

"I'm really excited about the way our football team is looking," Moreland said. "(Quarterback) Vince Young is an outstanding athlete, (QB) Chance Mock has the tools to play on Sundays and there's plenty of exceptional athletes all over the field."

When asked about his baseball career, one particular game was brought up.

"I was with the Cubs and we were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates in extra innings," Moreland recalled. "I was asked to bunt and took the first pitch for a ball. I didn't see the bunt sign again and hit a game-winning two-run home run off of Rick Reuschel.

"I got in the dugout and my manager (Gene Michael) fined me $100 for missing the sign. It was the end of a series and we switched up our signals so I didn't see it.

"I hit the game-winner and got fined for it. Needless to say, me and Gene didn't see eye to eye on a number of things."

For Horner, 47, he's best known for jumping straight from collegiate baseball (Arizona State University) right to the Atlanta Braves in 1978, where he hit his first home run in his third at-bat, off Bert Blyleven.

Horner spent nine years with the Braves and one year with the St. Louis Cardinals before playing briefly in Japan. He is the only player in major league history to hit four home runs in a single game for a losing team.

These days, the Irving resident is now keeping busy with his children.

"I have no time for golf these days," Horner said with a laugh. "I've been moving my son to Colorado for graduate school and another one of my kids is off to college, so they're keeping me busy."

After growing up in Cypress, Calif., Horner's family moved to Arizona, but he still has vivid memories of his SoCal youth.

"They're used to be 'Little League Day' at Anaheim Stadium where we would dress up in our uniforms and go out to the ballpark," Horner said. "I remember watching Harmon play and Mickey Mantle and all the greats of the game."

The legendary threesome joined 68 other golfers at Wildflower to help raise money for the VistaCare, a nonprofit organization which tries to improve the quality of life for patients and their families facing a life-limiting illness.

Without government support, all funds provided by the VistaCare Hospice Foundation are direct donations from grateful patients, families and communities.

For information about the VistaCare Hospice Foundation or hospice care, call (254) 742-2000.

Contact Tony Altobelli at talto@kdhnews.com

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