Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Hal Bodley is Right: Hank Aaron Is the Only Genuine Home Run King
55-year baseball writer Hal Bodley, on 'Morning Joe' today to advertise for his new book, 'How Baseball Explains America' deserves kudos for telling it like it is regarding the slimeball, Barry Bonds, and why only Henry Aaron merits being the Home Run King. When asked about how he would "contextualize" the 1990s and the "PED era" especially Barry Bonds surpassing Aaron's HR record, Bodley didn't mince words. He sated emphatically that Bonds' HR records needs to be asterisked (*). He can't be allowed to just own the top record in baseball without qualification.
Most fans know San Fran fave Barry Bonds used steroids for years to build up muscle mass, just so he could overtake the greatest slugger of all time: Henry Aaron. Honest baseball observers were astounded as Bonds morphed from a guy of more or less average muscle mass to something resembling the Hulk. It didn't take a physician to realize something was rotten in the city by the bay and it wasn't days old fish in the markets. At least the last Hall of Fame vote kept this miscreant Bonds out, as it should in perpetuity, see
Why the hell poison the Hall of Fame and its creds by allowing this punk in? Just to appease Giants' fans? Sorry, there aren't enough of them and those who back Bonds need to be ignored. Baseball, in a life or death struggle with NFL Football for the soul and interest of the nation, needs Bonds like it needs.....well....Ebola! He's a blight on the sport as much as all the other MFs that used PEDs and soiled the game. Hell, they've probably done as much damage to the game as the 'Black Sox' scandal back in 1919.
As for the HR record, I still regard all Bonds' homers over 500 as bogus while Aaron retains the actual - real record (755). I mean, Aaron earned it!
In 1954, Aaron came to the Milwaukee Braves (after they moved from Boston in April, 1953) from Jacksonville in the Sally League. While living in Milwaukee at the time, both Aaron and Eddie Matthews (3rd base slugger) both became household names as multiple TV spots announced the stellar names and featured interviews. One afternoon, in early April, 1954, my dad came bolting through the door hollering: "You have to see this!"
We all gathered round, 4 kids and mom, to behold a Kelloggs' Corn Flake top with two names scribbled on top in black ink:
'Eddie Matthews' and "Henry Aaron"
"They were at the A&P!" Dad blurted. "And all I had was this cereal box to get their autographs! Sorry!"
From then I followed the Braves and Aaron religiously, watching baseball games nearly every Saturday. I also did what kids at the time usually did, trade (or flip) for the best TOPPS Baseball cards in order to collect as many of the Braves as possible. Eventually, ending up with most in the 1954 series.
The World Series in 1957 marked the pinnacle of the Braves' sojourn in Milwaukee, as they beat the New York Yankees four games to three, with the last game in Milwaukee. Aaron was sensational, collecting 4 hits in 5 separate Series games and hit .333.
When Al Downing tossed up the ball that Aaron served up for home run 715 in Atlanta, all original Braves' fans cheered, and couldn't understand how or why rednecks in the South would send him hate mail for besting Ruth's record. We had to believe that it was all about racial hate, and the crackers just despised Aaron because he was black. They couldn't handle him bypassing a great white man, Babe Ruth.
Bonds besting Aaron, of course, is totally different, since Bonds resorted to steroids to put on muscle mass to enhance his homer rate. Aaron, using only his God-given talent and powerful (8") wrists, did it on his own - and often against fearsome hate, detraction from Red state Ruth backers. Aaron is also the embodiment of the gentleman who's set by example, in contrast to Bonds.
The last game in which I saw Aaron play was in August, 1976, when Aaron's Milwaukee Brewers played the Oakland As at County Stadium and beat them 4-3 in a hum dinger. Wifey and I saw everything - from a rare triple play, to a balk, inside the park homer, and a full out bench -emptying brawl and player ejection.
Aaron overall probably did more than many players to shape the game and as Bodley points out, that needs to be respected.
At the same time, the game needs to speed up and bring more of the younger generation into the fold. Yes, football (soon to start again) is great too, but baseball is much more part of the core and history of this country and for many of us remains the national pastime.