Hank Aaron lived up to his Hammerin’ Hank nickname on the 40th anniversary of the day he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. Aaron was hammerin’ Republicans, likening them to the Ku Klux Klan.
“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 on Tuesday. “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
Aaron, who played for the Braves when he eclipsed Ruth with his 715th home run, also said he doesn’t have fond memories of his pursuit for the record.
“I don’t think about it that much just because of the pain,” Aaron said in the interview with USA Today. “I think about other things. There were other things in my life that I enjoyed more than chasing the record. I was being thrown to the wolves. Even though I did something great, nobody wanted to be a part of it. I was so isolated. I couldn’t share it.”
Forty years later and there still is a sting.
“For many years, even after Jackie Robinson, baseball was so segregated, really. You just didn’t expect us to have a chance to do anything. Baseball was meant for the lily-white,” Aaron said. “Now, here’s a record that nobody thought would be broken, and, all of a sudden, who breaks it but a black person.”
Aaron has every right to speak his mind, to offer those thoughts. This is, after all, America. It’s just a curious time to do it – the day Atlanta and other parts of America took a moment to celebrate his home run record.
Bob Sansevere is a columnist for Digital First Media at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. You can read his blog, Sansevere’s Huddle, at TwinCities.com and follow him on Twitter @bobsansevere.