Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He's not ready to let them go.Oh, my goodness, Hank!
He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.
"You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it," one of them reads. "Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move."
Yes, Aaron even saved the death threats, the ones that vowed to end his life if he dared break Ruth's cherished all-time home run record.
...Aaron's march to history ended 40 years ago today, when his 715th home run vaulted him past Ruth as baseball's all-time home run leader. Yet it was an often joyless and lonely pursuit, and Aaron says he has good reason to hang onto the cruel correspondence.
"To remind myself," Aaron tells USA TODAY Sports, "that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There's not a whole lot that has changed.
"We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated.
"We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.
"The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts."
Republicans are like the KKK when they oppose Obama's ideas and actions?
(Remember: The respected Democrat, Robert Byrd, was the one who donned the hood.)
It really bothers me when legitimate objections to Obama's policies are deemed to be rooted in racism.
It's a terribly unfair accusation to make and very hurtful.
Given the horrible treatment Hank received and what he experienced, I would think he'd be the last person to hurl such remarks.
Sadly, it's ridiculous to say "Hank Aaron's grace a beauty to behold."
There's nothing beautiful about his despicable, ugly comments, nothing graceful.
Racists deserve condemnation. Playing the race card to explain opposition also deserves condemnation.