With all the allegations and ultimate convictions of MLB baseball sluggers in recent times, Hank Aaron has emerged as a saint. Aaron played in an era when steroids were not around. Pride also mattered. On Wednesday, Hank Aaron will celebrate his 80th birthday.
The record book still shows that Barry Bonds is the all-time leading home run hitter. But in the hearts of many fans and other athletes Aaron is No. 1.
What stands out is that Aaron was not particularly big. He stood at 6-foot-0 and weighed 180 pounds. But many of his contemporaries say that Aaron had one of the quickest and strongest wrists.
The numbers Aaron put up were amazing. He belted 755 homers and also had a .305 batting average in a 20-year career with the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He still has the record for total bases at 6,856. What is more amazing is that he did it during a time that he was not popular with some people in America. No doubt many loved Aaron and his on the field excellence, but some could not see beyond the color of his skin.
Aaron has remarked about how miserable he was during the home run chase of Babe Ruth‘s record of 714 in 1974. He received death threats, but was able to move on when others might have choked. Faced with adversity, Aaron always maintained an aura of class and dignity.
Bonds may be the current home run champion, but Aaron still holds a place in the heart of baseball fans everywhere.