One More Reason to Love Hank Aaron

From HuffPo:

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron thinks President Barack Obama’s Republican detractors aren’t too far off from the individuals who threatened him as he approached Babe Ruth’s home run record forty years ago.

In an interview with USA Today published Tuesday, Aaron described the racist letters he received as he closed in on Ruth’s milestone. Four decades later, Aaron says he still keeps the letters in his attic to remind himself of the United States’ persistent racism.

“Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” he said. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

A few hours before Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record I got an indication that, forty years later, we would still be dealing with white racists who will never accept the concept of African-Americans being equal to them.

I lived in Houston at the time so, of course, I wasn’t at the game in Atlanta that night.

I did, however, get to see Aaron play against the Astros later in 1974 on one of his last games against the Astros prior to him moving to the Milwaukee Brewers for the last two years of his career.

Aaron only pinch hit that night, but the sell-out crowd at the Astrodome gave him a standing ovation.

But that would not be the end of the story.

I expressed to some acquaintances on the afternoon of April 8th that I was looking forward to watching the Braves-Dodgers game that would be broadcast that night on NBC’s Monday Night Baseball (the network didn’t ordinarily begin its Monday Night Football copycat-ing until later in the season, but with the high likelihood that the first Monday night of the 1974 season would see the home run record fall, NBC had a ‘special broadcast) because I wanted to see the record broken – to see history made.

One of those acquaintances responded by saying that he was definitely not looking forward to the game because he did not want to see a black man break a white man’s record.

I and my acquaintances were nine years old.

I suspect that I’m the only one of the bunch that has done any significant changing since then – which means…

I suspect that those acquaintances now all have neckties.

Fulton County Stadium has died.

The Astrodome is on life support.

But racism is alive and well and doing business as the Republican Party.


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