March 2010 Bookshelf

The Hammer: The Best of Hank Aaron From the Pages of Sports Illustrated (2007)

I picked up this book for $1 at Borders.  While I’m not the biggest baseball fan, the story of Hank Aaron has always intrigued me, though not enough to read an actual book about it until, apparently, I could do so for a dollar.  This compendium of Sports Illustrated articles dating from 1957 to 1994 is extremely compelling if for no other reason than seeing Henry “The Hammer” Aaron transform from a humble young phenom to oft-overlooked giant of the game.  It was a game in which he secured several records, the most impressive being perhaps the greatest record of them all; the career home run record (eclipsed in 2007 by Barry Bonds*).  Despite these achievements, one can easily surmise that Aaron cared very little about the records and most certainly was not given the time or room to enjoy them due to a less-than appreciative city and ball club as well as a multitude of daily death threats leading up to his record-breaking moment (evidently, the Emancipation Proclamation still hadn’t gotten much press in Georgia by the early 1970’s…).  Taken as a whole, the articles are bittersweet reminders that leave the reader with an overwhelming sense that Aaron, scorned by the very game that brought him notoriety, will forever be overlooked as the truly great defining force in the development of America’s past time that he was.  And not just for his achievements with a bat.

The Smoking Cupcake, March 2010


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