Hammerin’ Hank visits Braves camp

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – The biggest Brave stopped by spring training Monday, and Hank Aaron made it a point to walk through the clubhouse for what he said was the first time in 20 years.

“I’ve been in the clubhouse, but not during spring training,” he clarified, adding that the sights and smells brought back memories. “I remember going through the clubhouse and my hands were bleeding and tired and everything was sore. But I kept right on going.”

Aaron, 76, fielded questions on a wide range of topics including top prospect Jason Heyward, who could open the season for the Braves in right field, Aaron’s old position.

Heyward, too, is a black Southerner — from McDonough, an Atlanta suburb. Aaron has voiced concern in the past about declining numbers of blacks in the majors, and the Braves haven’t had more than one or two blacks on their roster in recent years.

He was asked if he was encouraged that Heyward could be the new face of the Braves.

“It’s encouraging, but I’d like to see more,” Aaron said. “I think we’re on the right track, but it dampens my spirit when I come up to spring training and I look at the kids – I’m not talking about tomorrow, I’m talking about right now – and don’t see any black kids….

“And this is a scene that you see all over the major leagues. This is not only with the Braves. You can go to any ballclub and you see the same thing… Something needs to be done about it.”

There is no simple solution, he conceded.

“I’m trying to figure out what is being done,” he said. “I don’t know how [to fix it], really. The game of baseball is very expensive, that’s number 1. It takes money for a kid to develop. Look at ballparks in Fulton County versus Buckhead. You’re talking about a field [in Buckhead] that is manicured; coaches are there, equipment is there. You go to Southwest Atlanta … The parents just don’t have the money to pay for it.”

This wasn’t what Aaron expected when he retired from playing at a time when blacks represented a much higher percentage of major league players.

“Black kids still play the game,” he said. “Somewhere along the line you lose them, between the ages of 12 and 17. What happens is those kids migrate and start playing football. They go to college on football scholarships. Mothers and fathers, the black parents, don’t have that kind of money to send kids to four years of college. A college scholarship, that’s where they’re going.

“There’s a lot of reasons [for the decline]. But we’ve got to try to figure out what’s the main reason and baseball has got to dip its hands in the pool and help out a little bit.”

Among other topics he discussed were the current Braves, manager Bobby Cox’s final season, and Mark McGwire and steroids.

• On Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson:  “Oh, God, this kid has the world in front of him. If everything stays on par and he pitches the way I know he can pitch, I think the Braves have a bubbling superstar in their pitching. They already have [Jair] Jurrjens. I think this kid [Hanson] is going to do well. He’s built like a pitcher; he’s not big but he’s big enough. He throws the ball very well and looks like he’s got all the mechanics of being a great pitcher.”

• On steroids in baseball: “I think baseball is cleaning up its act a little bit, I really do. I’ve said this, and I’ve repeated it over and over again: This is the most forgiving country in the world. If you come clean and tell the truth, you’re going to be forgiven. The kid with the Yankees, [pitcher Andy] Pettitte, came out and it was a week of news, then after that it was over with. We all make mistakes. I’d like to see anybody who did enhancing drugs, whatever they did, they should come clean.”

• On McGwire’s recent steroids confession: “I would have loved to have seen him do it a long time ago. But since he did it, I think that he would tell you himself he’s able to sleep at night, he’s able to look at his teammates.”

• On Cox’s plans to retire as manager after the 2010 season: “Bobby’s just been wonderful, not only to this organization and the city of Atlanta, he’s been good for baseball…. You hate to see Bobby go. You know what he means to the organization, what he’s done — championship after championship, and he’s helped so many ballplayers. You hate to see somebody like that go. But we all have to change and keep moving.”

• On advice for Heyward: “The advice I would give to any kid coming to the big leagues nowadays, is they have to remember this is the major leagues. Whether they’re playing against St. Louis, Chicago – whatever team they’re playing against, that’s the best that that team has to offer. And if they go out there and go 0-for-4 or somebody gets a  home run off them, remember that those kids are in the major leagues just like them.  Profit from you mistakes. The next day, the next time, don’t make the same mistake.”

• On Heyward’s minor league achievements: “Things like that don’t impress me, minor league credentials, what a player does. The thing that impresses me is when a player gets to the major leagues, how well he adapts to the major leagues. I’ve seen a lot of guys come up that had great potential  — and I’m not saying he’s going to falter, by no stretch of the imagination; I think he’s going to do well, but I don’t get too excited until after I see them perform in the major leagues.”

• On being considered the “People’s Home Run Champ” by those who see Barry Bonds’ record as tainted by his alleged use of steroids: “Regardless of what happens, I’m not going to hit another home run. That’s all I’m going to hit. [Aaron laughs]. Not in this world. I may do it somewhere else, but right now that’s the end of my [home runs]….

“You know you have people like — [to a Japanese reporter] are you from Japan? – from her hometown like Mr. Oh, Sadaharu Oh, who has 800 home runs. He did it right. He was great. Sometimes, you have to remember that you don’t have to cheat in order to do something right. You can be successful in baseball, football, basketball, whatever you want to be. You just have to learn to do it right.”

Photos from AJC.com: Hank Aaron’s career – The Hammer turns 75

To interact with DOB, go to his main blog today at blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2010/02/22/coxs-first-day…ly-be-his-last/

81 comments Add your comment

Isenberg

February 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

Awesome that Aaron visited camp!

Alan

February 22nd, 2010
2:50 pm

Hank Aaron is a classy individual. I’m really surprised he hasn’t been in the Braves’ spring training clubhouse in 20 years. Did he say why, DOB?

Kurdt Kobain

February 22nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Still the best.

zmerk13

February 22nd, 2010
2:53 pm

One of the all time greats, on and off the field…

BravesfaninWis

February 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

Hammerin Hank is a great guy. He is right, there seems to be a declining number of African American players these days. The Hispanic player count is up though, but that is a totally different story then what Hank is talking about.

Heyward is the future face of the Braves though, and I am sure he will make Hank proud in the process. I wish I could meet that baseball icon, he is in a class all of his own.

Joshhh...

February 22nd, 2010
3:17 pm

Man, Hank Aaron seems like such an awesome guy

I hope to meet him someday.

Tooslim73

February 22nd, 2010
3:26 pm

Mr. Aaron is class.

NBA player

February 22nd, 2010
3:44 pm

Would I be accused of being racist if I said we need to see more white players in the NBA? Yes. Is Hank racist for saying we need to see more black playes in MLB? No. Double standards.

Robert

February 22nd, 2010
3:45 pm

Hey nothing like a education from a all time great glad to see he is still a part of the Braves family.

Alaska Braves Fan

February 22nd, 2010
3:48 pm

Aaron is simply one of the best ever, and his homer run total is not the most important thing about him. He’s a wonderful man whose character was forged in a very hot furnace.

drumzalicious

February 22nd, 2010
4:01 pm

the craziest thing about aaron’s career is he never struck out more than 100 times

Sonny Jackson

February 22nd, 2010
4:04 pm

Hank will always be pure class and the homerun king and just maybe he will find us a good black lead off hitter

StingerSplash

February 22nd, 2010
4:14 pm

Still one of the most underrated players of all time. All time RBI leader. More than 3,700 hits. Good fielder. Ran well, though he didn’t have to steal bases.
And a class act to boot. Well, since the Braves are looking for some corner outfield pop …. nah, let him enjoy retirement.

Dale Murphy's Mole

February 22nd, 2010
4:15 pm

Um, Japan isn’t exactly a “hometown” …

jeff

February 22nd, 2010
4:21 pm

Class act. I think the race things is a bit overblown on the comments here.

Think of all the minor league teams, college teams, and independent leagues out there for baseball – thats a lot of people. In comparison, by sheer volume, its disheartening to see a small percentage of African Americans in baseball. Especially considering the proud and rich tradition that exists in this country for baseball for African Americans- before and after Jackie Robinson.

Besides, look at the message: its expensive to play baseball – fields, coaches, bats, balls, gloves. I think Hank is saying its expensive to play ball for many minorities. Basketball and soccer is cheap. Football is popular and more kids are drawn to it regardless of cost.

I think this is the same reason that baseball thrives in the Domincan and other South American countries. Similar to the popularity of football here in the USA, in those countries, baseball enjoys the same popularity so it is successful regardless of cost.

F-105 Thunderchief

February 22nd, 2010
4:25 pm

Others may disagree, but to me, he was the best baseball player ever. And, I’m glad he was and remains a Brave.

bali

February 22nd, 2010
4:26 pm

great column….braves last living legend…maybe all of baseball

P. Neikro

February 22nd, 2010
4:28 pm

Last living legend? Oh, OK. Thanks.

Hillbilly

February 22nd, 2010
4:32 pm

the craziest thing about aaron’s career is he never struck out more than 100 times

One of my favorite stats of all time is this: Take away all of the Real Home Run King’s homers, and he’s still got over 3,000 hits.

BravosfanInVa

February 22nd, 2010
4:36 pm

I’m so sick of hearing about the lack of black players in MLB. Is it the braves responsibility to bring black players or is it to bring in the best players regardless of race? I would rather see a great braves team than one that has a proportionately acceptable (according to Hank) number of black players. How about we not bring affirmitive action into baseball? And football costs more to play than baseball. Well I guess it’s ok to say stupid things if you hit a lot of home runs a long time ago.

Rick

February 22nd, 2010
4:46 pm

I was at Braves camp this morning. It was really fun. Fans getting close to the players and signing was going on everywhere. I then heard a rumble in the stands and suddenly a rush of hundred of people to the area behind the Braves dugout. Hank Aaron was in the house. .It was like bees on honey. Kind of nice. Baseball Heaven. Braves and Hammering Hank

F-105 Thunderchief

February 22nd, 2010
4:47 pm

I think Aaron’s point is that he’s disappointed more black kids aren’t pursuing the highest levels of baseball in the same numbers as they used to. They have abandoned the sport in favor of basketball and football. And, he’d like to see MLB reach out to black kids to encourage them to reach the top levels of the sport. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

SeanM

February 22nd, 2010
4:47 pm

And I am so sick of hearing others complain about the honest opinions of a man that achieved more in 40 years that most of us will ever achieve in our lifetimes. Give it a rest, he has earned the right to voice his opinion, even if you don’t agree with the message. Have you?

cavebird

February 22nd, 2010
4:48 pm

NBA Player & BravosfanInVa,

You miss the point about the declining number of black players in baseball. It is not, at least to me, a racial issue, it is a sport issue. Baseball is losing out to other sports on some of the best athletes—Aaron mentioned this in his comments, noting that the kids are switching to football (and basketball, although he didn’t mention this). This isn’t about affirmative action for black players, this is about baseball competing as a sport, versus other sports.

And NBA Player, for what it is worth, white players account for approximately 30% of NBA players, far more than black players account for baseball players (10.2% in 2009). But that isn’t the point; aside from the racist wackadoodle who is trying to start an all-white basketball league, the issue isn’t affirmative action, it is trying to get more kids to play the sport.

SeanM

February 22nd, 2010
4:48 pm

F-105 Thunderchief: Exactly

Herschel Talker

February 22nd, 2010
4:51 pm

Hank Aaron would likely manage circles around Booby the Idiot. Can we fire Booby the Idiot and hire Hank?

LitiGator

February 22nd, 2010
4:52 pm

I think the the more immediate nickname concern is what Bobby is going to call him. “Jason Heyward” doesn’t lend itself to any obvious 2 syllable, ending in “y” names. He got around Francoeur with “Frenchy” but this might be tougher.

David O'Brien

February 22nd, 2010
4:52 pm

SeanM, Thunderchief: well said. Some just want to twist this into something it’s not.

SeanM

February 22nd, 2010
4:52 pm

You know, when Hank finally passes away(hopefully a long time from now), I think you are going to see one of the biggest memorials ever done by MLB, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone doesn’t start a movement to get the other records done by those steroided players at least asterisked. I know everyone hates the asterisk because of what it represented at the time, but maybe all those like bonds who now profit from being cheaters should have taken away.

hal

February 22nd, 2010
4:53 pm

im from canada and i have two sports heroes jean beliveau and the hammer by the way thats a compliment to both men the ipotme of class both of them i saw the hammer play once in 1958 he was so smooth it was like watching maple strup drip the only time id ever use drip and the hammer in a sentence lol

Alaska Braves Fan

February 22nd, 2010
4:53 pm

BravosfaninVA: For a black man with Aaron’s entirely creditable history, I would think almost anyone would allow him his concerns for black youth. I know I certainly do. As for affirmative action, in this case it could take the form of supporting Little League in neighborhoods where it might not otherwise thrive. It’s clear we have a major problem in our schools, but those problems start in communities where kids grow up in dysfunctional families and poverty. It simply isn’t possible to reform education without improving the conditions in which those kids grow up. A strong baseball program would help many kids, and I know this to be true because of what it did for me. I’m a vanilla white guy, but I know a bargain when I see it, and baseball for our youngsters is a major good deal that coincidentally would result in more black players at the major league level.

MacDaddy16

February 22nd, 2010
5:06 pm

Got to appreciate Hank’s straight talk. Until JH performs to expectations on the big stage it’s just buzz. He has the tools, now he’ll have a chance to use them.

BuckheadBrave

February 22nd, 2010
5:10 pm

BravosfaninVa,
Did you have fun in Nanhuta this weekend? Sorry we traded your hero John Rocker, do us all a favor stay in VA, become a Nats fan and leave our legends alone.
Thanks,
The City of Atlanta

BravesfaninWis

February 22nd, 2010
5:13 pm

Come on guys with the race cards. All Aaron was doing was simply stating his own opinion that he would like to see more black kids in pro baseball. It would be no different if whites started dropping out of pro hockey and Wayne Gretzky made it known that he would like to see more white kids return to the sport.

Its not like he came out and said that the sport doesn’t want black kids in the game, he is simply stating his desire to see more of his own color in the game. Nothing at all wrong with that.

BuckheadBrave

February 22nd, 2010
5:15 pm

sorry its Nahunta,GA not nanhuta whatever, either way we should give to South Carolina

MattyRoss

February 22nd, 2010
5:22 pm

NBA player – That whole “where are the white people in the NBA” thing? Yeah man, that’s racist. No one would ever feel comfortable talking about that. Except sports illustrated, which did a cover story on the topic not more than a year ago. Grow up.

What I find more indicative of prejudice is that people can’t even make that kind of comment without it being construed as racially charged by others. If you look at the content of the argument, the basis of it is mostly in the socio-economic backgrounds of the black communities in Atlanta and most major cities across the country. The fact that the kids are black is the common tie for the observation, not the basis for some racial crusade.

These (NBA Player & BravosfanInVa) are the same kinds of thought processes as people saying now that we have a black president, racism is dead in america. You know when racism will be dead? When no one is pointing out that the president is black, and when someone can say hey, this group of people (that happens to be black) is under-represented in the sport these days without people thinking he’s on a soap box. I’m ready for the post-racism time when we can make comments like Hank’s and not sound like we’re ready to start a riot. It’s something that bothers him and many others in the game, including I’d wager the commissioner, although I’m sure if an old white dude came out talking about a lack of black players, there would be those of you villifying him as well.

siskel_god

February 22nd, 2010
5:25 pm

Latin American countries have more poverty than southwest Atlanta and those kids still play over pressure to play soccer and other sports. I coach T-Ball in Austell and we have plenty of black kids that can afford to buy a glove and use the coaches bat and helmets. The money thing is not the reason, I don’t know what it is but it’s not that. I bought a grown man’s baseball glove for 25 dollars at Wal Mart, that’s cheaper than the Under Armour that the highschool football players wear under the uniforms and about a 1/4 of the price of a pair of basketball sneakers. Maybe the fact that only 12.4 percent of the United States population is black is a better indicator of why only 8.2 percent of MLB players are black, about 30 percent of the league is latino compared to the U.S. population of 15.4.

MacDaddy16

February 22nd, 2010
5:27 pm

“sorry its Nahunta,GA not nanhuta whatever, either way we should give to South Carolina”

Why the hate for the Palmetto State?

bvillebaron

February 22nd, 2010
5:29 pm

F-105 Thunderchief:

I am with you on this one. I will be 58 years old in July and grew up idolizing Hank Aaron. Growing up, one of my classmates idolized Mays and he and I got in too many arguments to remember about whether Aaron or Mays would beat the Babe’s record. At that time, Mays was quite a bit ahead of Aaron on the homerun list. I was a senior in college and my friend in the same class in another college. When Aaron hit the homer to pass the Babe, my friend tracked me down that very night to tell me I was right.

Hank Aaron was the best player ever. He was a better offensive player than Mays (who many mention as being better than Aaron) and was just as good defensively without being flamboyant. Aaron’s accomplishments stand out because he played in what I refer to as the “Golden Age” of baseball (i.e. the era when baseball was finally fully integrated and before the talent became watered down like it is today with 30 teams).

One of the most amazing stats about Hank was that he hit almost the same amount of homers at home and on the road because he was a line drive hitter. This, of course, destroys the argument of some Aaron critics who claim he got “cheap” homers in the “Launching Pad”.

So glad to see he came back to visit the clubhouse after all these years.

Cold Stove

February 22nd, 2010
5:33 pm

Blog is a little weak now

That's MrGil 2U

February 22nd, 2010
5:33 pm

I don’t care what color a player is, as long as he can play at a high level. Too bad some folks aren’t as color blind as I am.

Cold Stove

February 22nd, 2010
5:35 pm

so mr gil if you are colorblind I guess hammerin hank is not

jerry

February 22nd, 2010
5:37 pm

it’s not our fault ar baseballs that most black kids pick fotball ar basketball, wish it wasn’t this way. i miss all the Arrons and Dawsons that could be out there.

RC in ATL

February 22nd, 2010
5:41 pm

NBA Player,

If I were representing the Atlanta Braves at an NBA All-Star gala and former President George W. Bush were speaking at the event, and I introduced him as ’still the President of OUR United States,’ would I be in some serious trouble? You bet I would.

Yet, when President Clinton came to Atlanta a few years back to speak at an event during the NBA All-Star weekend, that’s how Mr. Aaron introduced him. A divise and offensive remark to many people in our city and our nation. And yet, nothing was ever made of it by the press.

I lost respect for Hank Aaron that day. I realize he endured a lot of unbelievable stuff when he was a player – stuff that no one should have ever had to go through. But that does not excuse such a blatant act of politically-motivated schismaticism.

northbeach Scott

February 22nd, 2010
5:42 pm

In addition to the stellar career, Henry Aaron went about his business in a humble and professional way. Given the horrendous threats, hate mail and taunts that he endured as he approached 714, it makes his accomplishments and professionalism all the more astonishing. MIlwaukee and Atlanta were very fortunate to have Hank Aaron as the face of the franchise for so long.

While I have admired Hank the ballplayer, he is not a particularly bright or effective executive. His second wife, Billye, seems to wind him up on various issues that he does not totally comprehend, which has made him sound rather ignorant and irrelevant over the years. Shut it Hank, and let us enjoy you for what you brought to the game as a player.

SilverKey

February 22nd, 2010
5:42 pm

Move onto the more important stuff, like Heyman saying the Braves have interest in LOAF. That’s scary…

RC in ATL

February 22nd, 2010
5:43 pm

But let me say that I do think he was the greatest ever and he is my choice as the homerun king of all time. An honest, hard-working professional baseball player who played by the rules!

dap01

February 22nd, 2010
5:43 pm

Hank Aaron speaks wisely and it is apparent with everything that he says.

He is the class of Atlanta.

RC in ATL

February 22nd, 2010
5:47 pm

MattyRoss,

Well said man. Wish we could live in a world like that.

Politics aside, I am glad that this country has elected a non-white President to show the world that at least the majority of us (hopefully) are living with a post-racist mentality.

RC in ATL

February 22nd, 2010
5:55 pm

And one more thing, MattyRoss, I think you nailed it when you alluded to the fact that Commissioner Selig doesn’t talk about it too much. There could very well be a backlash of criticism if he did say something to that effect.

sidslidkid

February 22nd, 2010
6:00 pm

I like how Aaron is staying away from contributing to the perpetual hype that is swirling around Jason Heyward. The kid has plenty to live up to. It’s starting to seem like if he doesn’t produce at Aaron’s level some people will be disappointed. Though I can’t blame people for wanting to hype him. He’s a special kind of prospect and he makes it fun to think about the future of the Braves.

hal

February 22nd, 2010
6:02 pm

how hout heyieee

BuckheadBrave

February 22nd, 2010
6:02 pm

All I know is I can’t wait to finally have a real outfield again, Heyward is the real deal and he will be for years to come, he actually has a handle on his fundamentals unlike another RF we used to have who name I wish would escape me. McLouth will have a big bounce back year and Matt Diaz’s second half of 2009 was no fluke with Melky more than capable to be a fill in where needed, he wont knock it out but he’ll get on base and drive in runs. Frank Wren, if he wants to have a job next year needs to lock down this young core though, Escobar, McLouth,Hanson,Jurrjens all need to have long term deals maybe Prado depending on this year.
Think about the future with those players locked down, and get Heyward locked down if he performs. You have Freeman coming in at 1b next year and Mike Minor, Tehan, and Arodys Vizcaino, so the rotation will just reload as Hudson, Lowe, and Kawakami retire. Your core going into 2012 of Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Jurrjens, McLouth, Schaffer, possibly Prado and Medlen would be by far the best young foundation in Baseball, similar to the payoff the Phillies are enjoying with Howard, Utley, Hamels, Happ etc.. Wait two years to judge Frank Wren if he locks this group down he will have the best team in Baseball.

scottbravesfan

February 22nd, 2010
6:16 pm

Cavebird,

You need to do your math again there about the amount of white people in the NBA. The NBA is 76% black and only 20% white. Now take out all of the white European and Canadian guys and see how many white Americans actually play in the NBA. I like basketball, I played the sport in high school and I was the one white guy on the team every year. It was rare when we played a team that had more than one white players and I kept playing. So I don’t feel bad at all for black baseball players who might be the only player on the team. If you really want to feel isolated try being a hispanic or Asian kid playing football or basketball you are literally all alone. It would be cool if more black kids played baseball but if they don’t want to or can’t afford to, oh well.

Chopdawg

February 22nd, 2010
6:25 pm

Y’all remember Aaron’s comment about minor-league prospects:

“I don’t get too excited until after I see them perform in the major leagues.”

Heyward’s 20 years old; he might not be ready for the big leagues, especially might not be ready to be the savior a lot of people expect him to be.

I think he’ll hit for a high average with lots of doubles, a fair amount of HR’s, & that he’ll play great defense in RF–but it might be another year, even two, before he’s ready to do all that.

SowegaDawg

February 22nd, 2010
6:27 pm

Hank Aaron learned his lesson about praising young players a long time ago–Brad Komminsk come to mind?

Space Monkey

February 22nd, 2010
6:32 pm

I would love to see more talented black American kids in baseball. But let’s get real here. African Americans are less than 13 percent of the total U.S. population and falling. Black people will be a much less significant force in American culture and sports going forward. The population is shifting Hispanic. That’s true in baseball and in America overall. It’s just a demographic fact.

MacDaddy16

February 22nd, 2010
6:40 pm

May be a poor analogy but weeds grow fast and die out quickly. I’d be fine with slow steady growth from JH. I understand that he has his head on straight but success translated money has some strange effects on those not equipped to deal with what it brings, Ask Tiger about that. JH is special, so please go slow.

ND

February 22nd, 2010
6:51 pm

The next era of superstars has to come from somewhere, I am hoping JH leads the way. I do have to disagree w/ Hank when he says baseball is too expensive. Others have mentioned the same thing; baseball equipment is cheap compared to all the gear todays football players where. I mean a glove treated properly can last a lifetime. Ask Craig Biggio.

Anyway, Go Braves! Fire Blewitt!

Flo-Ri-Duh!

February 22nd, 2010
6:54 pm

Any one that is a citizen of Georgia that has a “B” average in high school can get a free college education. Did I say anyone? Black kids too! There are less blacks in baseball now because they are choosing football and basketball. I guess we should force them to choose baseball? Aaron was a great player about 50 years ago and black players were in the minority then also. By the way players are being drafted right out of high school to a baseball contract… there is no requirement that they ever spend a single day in college.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

February 22nd, 2010
6:57 pm

Baseball is to expensive – I do agree with Aaron on this. By that I mean that there should be a salary cap on pro baseball just like football and basketball. $40 million salaries are ridiculous.

wes covington

February 22nd, 2010
7:08 pm

Hank Aaron is a class act…………..I remember him signing an autograph for my four year old son in Jarry Park in Montreal back in 1973 or 74. It was awesome!

lgwest1

February 22nd, 2010
7:21 pm

Is Sonny Jackson, The Sonny Jackson the former Braves shortstop. If so, hello, and what are you doing these days?

Tim

February 22nd, 2010
7:23 pm

In reference to the comment about the players in Latin America in spite of the poverty. This is fact one of the issue’s touched on by Hank(and others) in the past. He takes issue with the amount of money and resources given by MLB toward player development in the Latin countries compared to the very small investment made by MLB in the inner cities. The feeling is that perhaps MLB should make such investsment in our youth.. especially in the inner cities.

I’m just saying…………………

Dave

February 22nd, 2010
8:28 pm

I find it interesting that even with someone of Hank Aaron’s stature, you still have the idiots who have to scream race – or politics – because of either their ignorance or their sensitivity.

The article is about and with one of the greatest ballplayers of all time, who we were very lucky to have in Atlanta. His words speak truth because of his life, his witness, and his accomplishments.

I still remember, all these years later, as a 12 year old boy, listening to the WSB broadcast in 1968 when he hit his 500th home run. And I remember his many other accomplishments as well.

But what I remember most is his character. He did his job, did it to the best of his ability, and was a living witness to what one could become. His dignity and character – along with his meteoric accomplishments – shine brightly today. He was a man, in the truest sense of the word, and I’m grateful that we got to see him pass this way.

Jim

February 22nd, 2010
8:41 pm

Someone bringing up Brad Komminsk’s name-just seemed like yesterday that he was slated to be the next Big Superstar of the Braves-man, does time fly by!

Padoyahet

February 22nd, 2010
8:55 pm

Hank Aaron. Poor Hank. Not enough US/i> born blacks in baseball to suit his taste. Plenty of players of African descent, but not good enough for Henry Aaron.

I guess some people won’t be happy until every last white player is drummed out of professional sports.

Tim

February 22nd, 2010
8:56 pm

Mr Aaron you are a credit to not only baseball but professional sports in general. As a young man I was lucky enough to watch you play. I only hope that when you speak baseball and the Braves in particular will be smart enough to listen. Thank you for all you did for the game

northbeach Scott

February 22nd, 2010
9:11 pm

per my 5:42, respect Aaron as a ballplayer and the way he did it. Would prefer Mr. Aaron, the would be social-engineer and dim bulb lackey executive, to put a sock in it.

Aaron’s accomplishments on the field do not make him an authority on MLB player demographics.

Big K

February 22nd, 2010
9:59 pm

Always the race card with Aaron.

Tim

February 22nd, 2010
10:32 pm

Big K, you’re an idiot.

[...] Aaron was in Lake Buena Vista on Monday. He met with reporters and spoke about several topics, but his thoughts on Mark McGwire had particular resonance. Here, as [...]

OMG

February 23rd, 2010
6:59 am

SOME PEOPLE HERE ARE IDIOTS. HANK IS NOT PLAYING THE RACE CARD.

Travelingdawg

February 23rd, 2010
7:09 am

Great article! Hank always represents Atlanta well. A class act, that’s for sure.

Clip file 02.23.10 — NYFSBlogs

February 23rd, 2010
9:47 am

[...] Atlanta countered Sandy Koufax’s visit to Mets camp with Hank Aaron. Yeah, but did Aaron play for the Dodgers? Aaron spoke in part about wanting to see more [...]

cavebird

February 23rd, 2010
10:11 am

scottbravesfan,

Actually, per ESPN’s Outside the Lines from earlier this season, the NBA is 71.8% Black, 9.9% White American, and 18.3% international, with the overwhelming majority of the international players being white europeans. That is approximately 30% white, which is what I said originally. Again, the issue is not (as some have thought, I recall an article somewhere recently) whether players of a certain race have trouble fitting in; it is whether baseball is losing out to other sports in getting kids to grow up playing the game. This isn’t black vs. white, this is baseball vs. football vs. basketball.

RC in ATL

February 23rd, 2010
12:13 pm

Dave, (and others)

Are we not all adults here? ‘Idiots?’ Let’s leave the name calling to the school playground.

All I'm Saying Is...

February 24th, 2010
2:35 pm

Hank Aaron is the best. He’s earned the right to state his opinion about baseball no matter what. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still the all time home run champ. Hank made several great points especially the frank one about the irrelevance of minor league stats.

As for the reasons for the declining participation in baseball among African-American kids, I’d say there are several. Ones I’d point to are that

a) generational thing as folks 40 and older grew up during a time when baseball was truly the national past-time

b) basketball is far easier to go out and play anytime as you only need a ball and shoes to play (with a backboard and hoops easy to find)

c) only need one other person to compete against to get a basketball game going

d) baseball not as interesting to watch on television as football and basketball and that causes disinterest among many kids in taking up and sticking with the game.

e) Not really sure its the expense as much as it is the time required that makes it a challenge for parents to have their kids play baseball regularly although club team participation is very expensive

and

f) kids today have so many options for after-school and sports participation so baseball is competing a huge numbers of things

Why does it matter that fewer African-American kids play baseball? Mainly because if you play baseball as a kid, like I did, you are more likely to become a fan of the sport, watch it on TV, and go to games because playing helps you to appreciate it and not find it boring to watch on TV or in person and baseball needs all the fans it can get so it remains relevant.

LET’S GO BRAVES!

Dave

February 26th, 2010
3:57 pm

RC in Atlanta – when people make idiot comments, they’re idiots.

Turning the tables on Hank Aaron

April 14th, 2014
6:42 pm

[...] the franchise. Here’s what he said about seeing Heyward’s thankfully black face in the locker room at spring training: “It’s encouraging, but I’d like to see more,” Aaron said. “I think [...]

[...] the franchise. Here’s what he said about seeing Heyward’s thankfully black face in the locker room at spring training: “It’s encouraging, but I’d like to see more,” Aaron said. “I think [...]

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