Thursday, August 9, 2007

That Ball Is Outta Here!

Milo Hamilton's announcement of Hank Aaron's record breaking home run has been heard by millions of people. His voice is so familiar because of that momentous night, but I remember it from summer nights growing up in Georgia. WSB was Atlanta's most powerful station and could be heard at night one hundred miles away at Lake Burton in Rabun County. The place at the lake was off limits to television and phones for sanities sake. The only connection to Atlanta was a black portable radio so we could listen to the Braves games. It sounded scratchy and whiny but was better than nothing. Names like Felix Milan, Felipe Alou, and Dale Murphy came over that radio. Phil Neikro and Hank Aaron were stars no matter where they played and they were always Braves to me.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Braves fan I've had very mixed feelings about Barry Bonds breaking the home run record. For years I haven't liked his smirking and scoffing manner. The way he would stand at home plate and admire his homers was so unsportsmanlike. Having his own area in the locker room and playing by his own rules doesn't add up to a team player. A sportswriter once summed up Bonds attitude as,"I'm Barry Bonds and you're not." He's the AntiAaron.

Much has been made of the hate mail Henry Aaron received while playing and going for the record. But far more people across the country loved him and his work ethic. Atlanta had to share him with the world, but we didn't mind. We were proud of the hard-working, kind, and noble man who wore the Braves uniform. The fans in San Francisco cheer for Bonds with a chip on their shoulder. They're saying, "He may be an sob, but he's our sob." Pretty sad when that's all you have to root for.

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I like my heroes honorable. Everyone has flaws, some just don't wish to recognize theirs. Yes, Bonds has the record and will go into the Hall of Fame. But the best part of this season has been reintroducing Hank Aaron to young fans and letting them know that his legacy is still alive in baseball today.