The passing of the great Hank Aaron last Friday, Jan. 22, at age 86, emphasized the death threats the future Hall of Famer received as he neared breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8, 1974.
Death threats? Contemptible. But there’s a better perspective on Aaron’s 715th home run that broke Babe’s mark at a Braves’ home game in Atlanta.
“A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers’ announcer, declared that night.
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the State of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.”
And it was, and it is.
Even better, today, 46 years later, two generations have grown up since 1974, and there’s nothing exceptional today about a black athlete breaking a record – it’s more than routine.