I grew up in Atlanta a serious Braves baseball fan. After church we would catch the Number 6 Georgia Ave bus over to Fulton County Stadium to take in a Sunday afternoon game. I still recall the names: Felipe Alou, Rico Carty, Mike Lum, Clete Boyer, Joe Torre, Felix Milan, Bob Horner, Dale Matthews, David Justice, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, Dusty Baker, Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream — but of course the venerable name all Braves fans adore: Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, the true American baseball home run king.
As I grew up I sold Cokes at Fulton County Stadium. Our church, Fort Street United Methodist had a concession booth. You can imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t be there — since it was a school night — when Hank Aaron crushed a pitch by the LA Dodgers’ Al Downing for 715 — as called on that day almost exactly 40 years ago today.
I actually got to meet Hank Aaron when I attended Marist School for my 8th and 9th grade years. Both his sons, stellar athletes, Hank Jr. and Larry, attended Marist. To say that I idolized Hank Aaron would be an understatement. He was a man among men and his courage was simply awe-inspiring. His calm gentle demeanor and warm smile were just, well, special. I can still close my eyes and see Dad and him chatting during Marist football games.
Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I saw this story from the CBS Atlanta, that baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron compared Republicans that oppose President Barack Obama to the Ku Klux Klan.
Perhaps Mr. Aaron should remember that back then the folks in the hoods were Democrats. Perhaps Mr. Aaron should assess Barack Hussein Obama based upon his character and not his skin. Perhaps Mr. Aaron should realize that it was the former Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) who stated that deference was given to Obama by blacks and that if anyone else were in the White House they would be marching. Perhaps Mr. Aaron should see that the national unemployment rate for blacks is 12.4 percent and there are no excuses. Perhaps Mr. Aaron needs to be reminded that Obama canceled the DC school voucher program for deserving minority (i.e. black) children in one of the nation’s worst school systems.
Speaking to USA Today on the 40th anniversary of his then record-breaking 715th home run, the 80-year-old Aaron said that Republicans are hindering Obama’s job performance. “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,” Aaron told USA Today Sports. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
I am black, from Atlanta, raised by awesome parents, and based upon principle I challenge the policies of President Obama. Does that associate me with the KKK?This is the type of incendiary speech America does not need. Were blacks who opposed President George W. Bush also racists?
Aaron says he’s kept the racist letters he received as he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. “To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record,” Aaron explained to USA Today Sports. “If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”
Sir, a lot has indeed changed, America basically voted for someone to be president, twice, not because of any qualifications, but BECAUSE of his skin color. Some would consider that a major accomplishment. I don’t.
Do I still idolize Hank Aaron for his astute achievements? Absolutely, he is one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball. Do I still admire him? Yes. But sir, you are wrong in your assertion about Republicans who challenge President Obama.
Let me give you a final comparison. Back in the day it was Democrats who stood outside the doors of higher education obstructing black children from attaining a better education and opportunity. Today, those same Democrats stand inside the doors of failing schools, trapping black children and obstructing them from seeking better education and opportunity. Same party, just reverse positions, and I wish I could spend one hour speaking with Mr. Aaron to enlighten him on these points.
Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs in his magnificent career. He did it with his own skill and ability. He IS the standard by which all other home run hitters in baseball measure themselves — he is in the 1 percent and there was no fair share or shared home runs. He achieved it because of equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.