Killebrew battling esophageal cancer

Killebrew diagnosed with esophageal cancer

Hall of Famer and Twins legend Harmon Killebrew has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Killebrew, 74, revealed the news in a statement on Thursday morning. He said that he was recently diagnosed and is being treated by a team of medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic.

While acknowledging that his condition is very serious, Killebrew said that he has confidence in his doctors and medical staff.

"I anticipate a full recovery," Killebrew said in the statement.

The legendary slugger, who ranks 11th on the all-time home run list with 573, called the journey he now faces "perhaps the most difficult battle of my life."

Although the diagnosis of this type of cancer is certainly difficult news, Killebrew said that he and his wife, Nita, feel blessed to have access to some of the best doctors and medical care.

"The Mayo Clinic is one of the largest and most experienced medical centers treating esophageal cancer in the world," Killebrew said. "In the past decade, they have made tremendous advances in the treatment of this disease."

Regarded as one of the most prolific power hitters in Major League history, Killebrew is also one of the most beloved players to ever don a Twins uniform. Over his 22-year Hall of Fame career spent with the Washington Senators, the Twins and the Kansas City Royals, Killebrew was named an American League All-Star 11 times and was selected as the AL MVP in 1969.

Since retiring in 1975, Killebrew has been an ambassador for the game of baseball through his work with the Twins and his charitable endeavors. He and Nita founded the Harmon Killebrew Foundation in 1998 and have raised funds to benefit some of Killebrew's favorite charities.

"Harmon Killebrew is a great man," the Twins said in a statement on Thursday morning. "The collective heart of the Twins family goes out to him and Nita as they begin the battle against this cancer. Harmon is universally loved, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and Nita throughout this ordeal. We ask that everyone send prayers Harmon's way as he begins the road to recovery."

Killebrew said that he and his wife thank everyone for their outpouring of prayers and concern, and they have asked for privacy during this time.