Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Home Run Champ Soon

As I write this Barry Bonds has 753 home runs. Henry Aaron is Major League Baseball's all time home run king with 755. I was twelve years old when Aaron hit his 715th homer on April 8, 1974. Hard to believe this record is about to be broken again.

Flashback to April 1974. I was in sixth grade, too young to fully understand all that was going on in the world but I was a huge baseball fan. When Aaron hit number 715 all I could think about was I had seen the greatest sports record fall. The next day I devoured all the sports pages (We had the Washington Post and the Washington Star then), bought all the sports weekly's (Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News) and I even made sure I had every Hank Aaron baseball card that came out commemorating the record. I know I talked a lot about this with my Grandfather, who saw Babe Ruth play when the Yankees came to Griffith Stadium to play the Senators.

Since Aaron's record is going to fall soon, there is an excellent book that has been out for a couple years called Hank Aaron And The Home Run That Changed America by Tom Stanton

This book details Aaron's chase to top Ruth. I picked this up on a whim at a book store while on vacation in South Carolina and I'm glad I did as I've enjoyed Stanton's other works as well.

Hank Aaron And The Home Run That Changed America describes a little bit about Babe Ruth and also little bit about Aaron's childhood, his upbringing and early career accomplishments. The majority of the book takes place between homers #710 and #715 and describes how hard it was for Aaron to mentally survive what amounted to two seasons to break the record. (He ended the 1973 season with 713 homers). It told of all the death threats, hate mail, and concerns Aaron had for his family. After he passed Ruth, Aaron was quoted as saying "Thank God it's over." After reading this book, one can see why he said that.

I'm not much of a Barry Bonds fan but I'm still going to tune in and watch.

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