Jan. 22, 2021

The One Record Hank Aaron Couldn't Defeat

Today's blog post honors Hammering Hank Aaron who died today. Growing up in Baltimore during the 1960s’ and early 1970s’ I rarely got the chance to see Hank Aaron play because this was before ESPN, or regional cable stations. Hank didn't play for a major market team such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, or the Giants. He played in Milwaukee and then Atlanta so his games hardly reached my home on NBC’s Game of the Week. So you had to wait until the Midsummer Classic to Hank Aaron play. I did 715 when the Atlanta Braves played the Los Angeles Dodgers and Al Downing grooved a fastball towards home plate and Hammering Hank smoked that baseball into the stands for that historic record-breaking home run. You cannot fathom the degree of pressure that America put on Hank Aaron for eclipsing Babe Ruth’s record. Ruth was the white man’s icon and the racism of America showed its ugly face as Hank moved closer to homerun 714 and then ultimately 715. Hank Aaron got daily threats on his life because Hank was doing his work in the cradle of the former Confederacy. Hank played his games out in the open and any maniac could've taken a pot shot at him to kill him and keep Babe Ruth’s record safe. I wonder sometimes if Babe Ruth had played for a southern team or if Babe Ruth was born in the heart of the South if those threats would have been carried out. I can only say thank God that Hank Aaron persevered and broke that record. He will always be remembered for that majestic feat. Hank Aaron lived a life that was just and he wanted justice for every man and woman in this nation. I just wish Hank Aaron broke the record of racism before he died. I'm sorry that currently in America racism is undefeated.