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Henry Hank Aaron – Still The Greatest! By Harold Bell

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(Original Caption) Hank Aaron is shown in this close up. He is shown as an Atlanta Braves outfielder during Spring Training.
The term “The Greatest” is used very loosely today, but I would guess it would depend on the generation one was born (time). Henry Aaron is the greatest player of my generation. His great swing took him from a poverty-stricken section of Mobile Alabama, to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He died on Thursday January 19, 2021. He was 86.

No. 44 Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron makes MLB history with his 715th home run on April 8, 1974.
I was blessed as a sports media personality to have broken bread and interviewed some of the greatest sports personalities of my generation. There were Muhammad (Boxing), Bert R. Sugar (Boxing), Red Auerbach (NBA), Wilt Chamberlain (NBA), Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines (College Basketball), Jim Brown (NFL) and Hank Aaron (MLB) and a cast of hundreds.

Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. in 1982.

I was not surprised Hank’s last heroic act was for his community. He was first among the Atlanta personalities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the new Morehouse School of Medicine, January 5, 2021. He was hoping to send a message to Black America that the shots were safe. He said, “It makes me feel wonderful. I don’t have any qualms about it at all. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this, you know. Its just a small thing that can help zillions of people in the country. Vaccine experts are saying his death had nothing to do with the vaccine.

Hank’s greatness never let him forget his humble beginnings growing up in Mobile, Alabama. He went from picking cotton as a child to hitting home runs out of Major League ball parks around the country.

Racism showed its ugly head at every stop, there were tough times in the Negro Leagues and more disguised and subtle racism in Milwaukee and Atlanta. The racist bigots that Jackie Robinson faced in 1947 were still there when Hank arrived in Indianapolis to play with the Clowns’ organization of the Negro leagues in 1951. He was 17-years old. There was no relief in Jacksonville in 1953 when the Braves promoted him to their Class A affiliate, the Jacksonville Braves. He led the league in almost everything accept home runs, runs scored (115), hits (208), doubles (36), RBIs (125), total bases (338) and batting average(.362). He made his Major League debut in Milwaukee on April 13, 1954. A fracture ankle cut his season short in early September, but he finished 4th in the voting for the “Rookie of the Year” he closed out the year with 13 home runs. There was little doubt he was a super-star in the making.

He was also frustrated with the lack of progress of Africa-Americans on the field of play (less than 10%), lack of GMs in the front office, lack of managers on the field and lack of black ownership in the sky-suites. He watched as so-called black brothers pretended to be minority owners in name and title only. They made no on-field or off-field baseball decisions to help the team win.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–-sports talk radio with classic interviews with sports celebrities, politicians and news makers of the day.  The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for almost 50 years with the help of his wife Hattie through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site.  You can check out Harold’s work on this site by clicking here.

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