Hammering Hank

There aren’t many sportspeople who get a song written for them. I don’t mean one of those, usually short-lived, chants that are sung by the crowd for a favourite. I mean a real song, a song that you walk around humming. Hank Aaron, who died today, was one of those.

Blast Furnace Band And The Grapevine Singers – Hammering Hank – Part 1

Hank Aaron was a baseball player, mainly for different versions of the Braves (Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta), who reached these statistical heights.

Now for most people, baseball stats don’t mean much, so let’s focus on one of those numbers, HR – 2nd.

HR means ‘home run,’ when a player hits the ball out of the park. The one baseball player whose name sports fan will have heard of, even they have never seen a baseball game, is Babe Ruth. Babe is probably the most iconic figure in American sports, and his 714 home runs was considered an unbreakable record.

Hank Aaron was a black man. He was born in Alabama one of the most deeply segregated states in the USA at the time. He was not supposed to rise from this to beat the Babe, but on the night of April 8, at 9.07pm, he went from equalling him on 714, to beating him with 715. At the time, LA Dodgers commentator said, ‘”A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us.”

Vin Scully calls Hank Aaron’s historic 715th home run

What Scully didn’t mention was that in the period leading up to this moment Aaron had been receiving daily death threats, some people just couldn’t accept that a Black man was over-taking the Babe. When fans ran onto the field as Aaron ran the bases, he didn’t know if they were coming to celebrate with him or coming to kill him.

Hank Aaron went on to hit a total of 755 home runs. He played at a high level all his career, who lived a decent remarkable life after retiring as a player. He died in his sleep on January 22, 2021.

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