By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
One should try to refrain from overusing the term “legend” when referring to famed athletes.
I will use the term today to mourn the death of a true legend of baseball: Henry Aaron, who died peacefully in his sleep overnight.
My goodness, what does one say about the man I consider to be Major League Baseball’s true home run king?
Hammerin’ Hank exhibited profound courage as he faced down blatant and hateful racism while he chased Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. He surpassed The Bambino in April 1974 when he blasted No. 715 out of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. He kept all the hate mail he received just to remind him of the torment he endured.
Aaron went on to hit 755 home runs over a career in which he played for two franchises: the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and then the Milwaukee Brewers. The Hammer became a civil rights activist and spokesman in his post-baseball life. He lived like a champion off the field as well as one who competed like one on the field.
Now, to be clear, Aaron officially is No. 2 on the career home list. He surrendered the title of all-time HR king to Barry Bonds, who finished with 762 home runs. Bonds, though, cheated his way to achieving the record by ingesting performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds never has acknowledged juicing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s … but he did.
Thus, I never can consider Bonds to be at the top of one of baseball’s greatest achievements.
The title of Home Run King will in my mind and heart belong to Henry Louis Aaron, a legend not just in his time … but for all time.