OBSERVATIONS: Aaron’s chase of Babe Ruth was harrowing

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, feeling morose over writing about the continued loss of iconic Hall of Fame baseball players. Stop it. Please stop it.

—One of Hank Aaron’s best friends was former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker. He never tired of telling stories about Hammerin’ Hank, especially about how difficult it was for Aaron when he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record.

Aaron received death threats and racially-infused hate mail. Atlanta is the Deep South and there were many — one is too many — who did not want a Black Man to break Ruth’s record.

Baker was on deck in Atlanta when Aaron broke Ruth’s record by hitting his 715th home run off Al Downing of the Dodgers.

“Because Hank was a Black man in the Deep South, folks didn’t want him breaking The Babe’s record. It wasn’t as happy of a time f0r Hank as it should have been,” Baker once told me. “As he headed for the batter’s box, he told me, ‘I’m tired of all this and I’m just going to get it all over with. And damned if he didn’t.”

Some of the things Aaron said during ‘The Chase’ showed how tough it was:

(-)”Babe Ruth never had to contend with anything like what I have when he was establishing his record.”

(-)The day he broke the record as he sat in the clubhouse: “Can I smoke now without somebody taking my picture?”

(-)”I can’t recall a day this year or last when I did not hear the name of Babe Ruth.”

(-)”I don’t want them to forget Babe Ruth. I just want them to remember me.”

And the most telling quote about how it was:

(-)I used to love to come to the ballpark. Now I hate it. Every day becomes a little tougher because of all the writers, tape recorders, microphones, questions. Roger Maris lost his hair the season he hit 61. I still have all my hair, but when it’s over, I’m going home to Mobile and fish for a long time.”

—From Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey’s book, ‘They Called Me God.’

Harvey called a strike on Pete Rose. When Rose quickly jerked his head to stare at the umpire, Harvey decided to have some fun with The Hit King and said:

“To be honest, Pete, I missed it. My eyesight isn’t so good, so I’m just going to call anything close a strike.”

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey: “Umpires are necessary evils. That’s just the nature of the beast. People look on umpiring as a job any postman can do.” (My postman would be a great umpire. He puts the neighbor’s mail in my box all the time.)

—The MLB network listed its top 10 left fielders in the majors and placed Jesse
Winker at No. 5. That is a bit hilarious in that Winker played most of his games last season without a glove. He was the Reds’ No. 1 designated hitter.

Wright State’s Sean Murphy of the Oakland Athletics is the No. 5 catcher. Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart did not maker the top ten. Didn’t he win the Gold Glove last season?

And Joey Votto did not make the top ten in the first baseman’s list.

MLB also listed the top ten left fielders since the division era began in 1969 and put both Pete Rose and George Foster on their roll call. That one at least makes a little sense.

—They will announce this year’s Hall of Fame class next week. There is a possibility that nobody on the Baseball Writers Association of America”s ballot will get the 75 per cent needed for induction.

Reminds me of 1953 when Joe DiMaggio was on the ballot for the first time and did not make it. How incredible is that?

If Marilyn Monroe was on the ballot she would have made it unanimously. She made a movie called ‘The Firehall,’ so she must have been a good pitcher.

In addition, while Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Frank Rohinson made it on the first ballot, 20 numbskulls did not vote for Williams, nine goofballs left Aaron off their ballot and 45 clueless voters did not include Robinson on their ballots.

Makes one wonder if there are t00 many b0xing writers voting for Hall of Famers.

—This is true. There was a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder in 10915-16 named Bud Weiser. However, there has never been a big leaguer named Lowen Brau or LaBatt Blue

—Somebody needs to fill out a missing persons report for the Kentucky, Duke and Indiana basketball teams.

None of the three is in the Top 25 in the Associated Press poll. When is the last time none of those three was in the Top 25?

Probably when Hector the Pup’s grandfather was a pup. The three basketball factories are a combined 18-19.

—Former Reds pitcher Chris Hammond, a devout Christian, sat at his locker nearly every day before games reading his Bible. He did it all season long.

Near the end of the season, pitcher Kent Mercker walked past while Hammond was engrossed in his Bible and said, “Haven’t you finished that book yet?” (Well, the Good Book is 1,200 pages.)

—Sarah Thomas, an NFL official for six years, will work the Super Bowl as a down judge, the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl.

For those who remember Sir Walter Raleigh, remember what it meant when a woman dropped her handkerchief in front of a man? Is that sexist? Sorry.

—Anybody else get the feeling that Eric Bieniemy is being used? The NFL has what it calls the Rooney Rule — a minority must be interviewed for every head coaching opening.

For the last three years or so, Bieniemy, an African American, has been interviewed by nearly every team. There were six openings after this season. Bieniemy was interviewed by almost all six, but the Kansas City Chiefs offensive co-ordinator remains unhired.

Everybody knows who Urban Meyer is. He was hired by the Jaguars.

But score 10 points for every other hire you have heard of: Nick Sirianni (Eagles), Robert Saleh (Jets), Dan Campbell (Lions), Brandon Staley (Chargers), Arthur Smith (Falcons).

There is one opening left, the Houston Texans. Odds-on that Bieniemy doesn’t get the job.

—Three things I have never seen with the naked eye:

(-)A baseball b.alk.

(-)A hockey goal.

(-)A traveling call in the NBA.

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Aaron’s chase of Babe Ruth was harrowing”

  1. Brandon Staley, a former Dayton Flyer quarterback. Thanks for you columns they are awesome, you might not be able to walk on water, but you sure know where the rocks are.

  2. Way long ago a journeyman Oriole hit big home run in the World Series. Briefly the big expression was Tonight, let it be Lowenstein.

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