Updated: May 17, 2011 at 12:00 am
The Prinzing siblings had good reason to be sad even before watching their Colorado Springs Sky Sox lose their fourth straight, 12-9, Tuesday night to Omaha and fall into a tie for last place in the Pacific Northern division.
The lifelong Minnesota fans were disappointed to learn of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew’s passing. The 74-year-old Twins great, who developed the strength to hit 573 home runs, No. 11 all time, by lugging 10-gallon milk cans as a boy at his family dairy in Idaho, died of esophageal cancer. Only Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez recorded more homers in the American League.
“He was my dad’s favorite player,” said Nicholas Prinzing, 27, who wore No. 3 as a child playing baseball. His sister Annika, 15, still dons it for softball. “He was the standard of what a star player should be.”
“It’s a big loss for the baseball fraternity,” said Sky Sox hitting coach Rene Lachemann.
In 1962, Killebrew became the first of only four to hit a ball over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium. In 1967, he hit the longest home run ever at Metropolitan Stadium, a drive that traveled an estimated 530 feet.
Both teams showed a smidgen of that kind of power before 4,876 at Security Service Field.
Omaha recorded two homers to help forge a 5-5 tie in the seventh. The Sky Sox used back-to-back singles and an error to take a 9-5 lead before Omaha’s batters lit up the bullpen for nine hits and seven runs in the eighth and their only lead, 12-9.
The Sky Sox connected on three home runs, including two-run, two-out homers by Ian Stewart and Mike Jacobs to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Jacobs hit a 430-foot blast that soared higher than the right field lights.
Even with the wind blowing out, such a hit seemed fitting on the day of Killebrew’s passing.
Sky Sox second baseman Brad Emaus was a last-minute scratch from the lineup because of a left oblique strain. He is likely headed to the disabled list.