It’s a hit and you can tell that one goodbye

Thirty-seven Forty years ago today, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home-run record (via):

What a crazy time the 60s were! Aaron got tons of death threats, yet there was so little security that those knuckle-headed (but probably well-meaning and supportive) kids got on the field to circle the bases with him.

And Hank did it all without ‘roids.






99 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    And Hank did it all with ‘roids.

    Say again?

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Forty years ago, not 37.

    We are celebrating and honouring Hank in Atlanta.

  3. 3
    Mike E says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hemorrhoids. ‘Cause The Hammer was a badass.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike E: Aye. A badasses’ badass.

  5. 5
    khead says:

    It’s gone and you can tell that one goodbye.

    You also got to hidey hide.

  6. 6
    DougJ says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I mean without.

    Sorry I posted while cooking.

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @DougJ: That means the without is somewhere in the pot, stewing.

    GET IT OUT OF THERE!

  8. 8
    Hunter Gathers says:

    If Aaron was breaking Ruth’s record today, the GOP would demand an asterisk, Aaron’s birth certificate, and a thorough investigation into every home run he ever hit, to make sure that Aaron wasn’t aided by affirmative action or some type of homer fraud. In very subtle (and not so subtle) ways, we’re still as racist now as we were back then.

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DougJ: I knew what you meant Doug, just thought you might want to correct it. And if you are like me, if you wrote it? You keep reading it like you meant to write it.

  10. 10
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    In very subtle (and not so subtle) ways, we’re still as racist now as we were back then.

    Come to STL some time. There is nothing subtle about our racism.

  11. 11
    Calming Influence says:

    With androids.

  12. 12
    DougJ says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Thanks for catching it!

  13. 13
    The Dangerman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    A badasses’ badass.

    If memory serves, he hit 714 on his first swing in Cincinnati; against Downing, his first swing was 715.

    Studly.

    ETA: Fuck off, Barry Bonds. And fuck the Yankees.

  14. 14
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Hank Aaron and Roger Maris still hold the relevant HR records, for all I care. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa (who apparently has pulled a Michael Jackson and bleached his skin, which makes him look really fuckin’ weird) – lying juicers (and, in Sosa’s case, also a bat-corker) who will never get into the HoF.

  15. 15
    opiejeanne says:

    So, it’s not the 60s, it happened in 1974

  16. 16
    gogol's wife says:

    @Mike E:

    I should always know it’s worth reading BJ threads, even if I have no interest in baseball.

  17. 17
    OldBean says:

    And Hank did it all without ‘roids.

    Because steroids didn’t exist in the sixties?

    He did it with amphetamines, that’s for damn sure.

    “Clean” records are a myth.

  18. 18
    maya says:

    Back then, the balls were on roids, IIRC.

  19. 19
    Bobby Thomson says:

    The 70s, not the 60s.

  20. 20
    dp says:

    What a man. I was a 12-year-old white baseball player in Louisiana, and I thought he hung the freaking moon.

  21. 21
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @PsiFighter37: this. I don’t even recognize Ripken’s “record.”

  22. 22
    the Conster says:

    What a lovely memory and tribute. Was that really Bill Buckner trying to catch that ball? If it’s the same Red Sox Bill Buckner he’s like the Forrest Gump of baseball.

  23. 23
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Why is that? I don’t get the impression Ripken was a juicer.

  24. 24
    Hungry Joe says:

    When I was a very little kid Aaron was still just getting started with the Braves, and my brother and I latched onto him as our hero. What are the odds that we’d pick one of the half-dozen greatest players of all time? I think the loudest I ever screamed in my life was one evening in about ’64 or ’65 when Dodger announcer Vin Scully — who didn’t even try to conceal his love of Aaron — called an Aaron grand-slam homer off Drysdale: “Fast ball BELTED to dead center field … forget it!”

    Now I’m worked up all over again.

  25. 25
    SatanicPanic says:

    @OldBean: Yup. Who cares. Bonds made the game fun to watch. I still treasure seeing Sosa’s 63rd.

  26. 26
    ThresherK says:

    I was really young when this happened.

    I also remember seeing on TV (and trusting to my memory–with pitfalls included) Chris Chambliss hitting a big HR to put the Yankees in the WS, at home, in ’76 or ’77, with similar fandemonium on the field.

    How can I have forgotten when security and police started keeping fans off the field for baseball? Was there one big incident that caused a sea change here?

  27. 27
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    Word to all of this.

  28. 28
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Hammering Hank is 80 years old. Number 715 was half a lifetime ago for him.

    He still looks great!

  29. 29
    OldBean says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    If we want to put an asterisk next to Bonds or Clemens or whoever, fine. But let’s be consistent about it. Let’s give Koufax an asterisk because he pitched off a mound three feet high in a park that was illuminated by three sixty watt bulbs during night games. Put an asterisk on Rose’s hits record because he did amphetamines by the handful (like many of his generation). And let’s give a MASSIVE asterisk to ALL of the pre-integration players, who benefitted from a weaker league at the direct expense of the careers of some of the most talented players of all time. Those players committed far worse crimes to the likes of Satchel Paige than Bonds ever did to Aaron.

  30. 30
    Geeno says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Isn’t Cal Ripken’s record pretty much just for showing up? Pain killers might have lengthened it, but steroids? I mean in any really material manner; could one demonstrate that a steroid was responsible for him showing up one inning that he would not have been able to without steroids?
    Even then, you’d have to show that the steroid was administered beyond a purely medical purpose, considering that steroid use for purely medical reasons (like Crohn’s disease, say) still isn’t “illegal” under MLB guidelines.

  31. 31
    Geeno says:

    accidental double post

  32. 32
    OldBean says:

    @Geeno:

    Basically steroids work like this: when a suspected user has durability/longevity (Bonds), steroids are responsible for that. And when suspected juicers break down early and often (Canseco), they’re responsible for that, too. See also: throwing witches in the river.

  33. 33
    Kevin says:

    He did it with greenies (amphetamines) though, and those have a noticeable performance enhancing effect.

    And who says he didn’t use steroids? Steroids were being used back then. There was no testing. Who knows?

    I don’t actually care about this. Bonds used PED’s. So did basically every good player and pitcher the past 30 years. Bonds was just better than the rest. Really wish baseball didn’t blackball him. He had a few more years in him. Look at his last years stats at age 43. He had a .480 OBP! At age 43, he walked 132 times, and was only struck out 54 times.

    Bonds was generally said to start using after 1998. By that time, he already had 411 home runs and 400 stolen bases. All time great if he retired than. All time great now.

  34. 34
    Kevin says:

    @OldBean:

    Good point. Although I do think Bond’s late injury was steroid related. His muscle basically fell off his thigh if I remember correctly, and that is something that happens to steroid users, something with the muscle connections weakening.

  35. 35
    efgoldman says:

    @ThresherK:

    Was there one big incident that caused a sea change here?

    This probably had something to do with it.

    With his eyes on home plate and his back to the seats, Tom Gamboa never saw them coming.
    One second the Kansas City coach was standing near first base. The next he was slammed to the ground, a bare-chested father and his teenage son pummeling him

    Although i thought it was way before 2002.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....itesox_ap/

    This too. Same park. http://reds.enquirer.com/2003/.....d3b16.html

  36. 36
    Cacti says:

    And Hank did it all without ‘roids.

    Oh? Who’s being naive, Kay?

  37. 37
    Kevin says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    A HOF without Bonds is not a HOF.

  38. 38
    Suffern ACE says:

    @OldBean: ah. But if you’re Griffey Junior or Big Hurt, a long career filled with injuries is proof that you were clean.

  39. 39
    NobodySpecial says:

    @OldBean: Show me a single study that says amphetamines build muscle mass.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    This is the third time I’ve posted this today

    A Boy, His Granddad and the Monumental Courage of Henry Aaron

    As the innocence of my youth faded, it broke my heart to learn why Aaron would have seemed reluctant while signing my autograph in 1978. Even though he broke Ruth’s record less than a decade after the Civil Rights movement tumultuously brought integration and other much-needed changes to the South, my grandfather and I had been unequivocally for him with nary a discussion of race.

  41. 41
    Anton Sirius says:

    The enduring delusion that between the Black Sox and Barry Bonds no one in baseball cheated is downright Paulian.

  42. 42
    Cacti says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    The enduring delusion that between the Black Sox and Barry Bonds no one in baseball cheated is downright Paulian.

    It’s also an enduring testament to the American tradition of blaming it on the black guy, that the only person convicted of anything in the steroid investigations was Barry Bonds.

  43. 43
    Kevin says:

    This really strikes me as just old people telling the kids to get off their lawn. We all value the players of our youth, but you can’t let that colour your perception of who they were and the era they played in.

    Like someone else mentioned, Cobb and Ruth and that era didn’t play with black players. Put a huuuge * there.

    People in the 60’s to the 80’s used amphetamines like they were chewing gum. Players in that era also started using steroids.

    No era is clean. Now I’ll get off your lawn.

  44. 44
    Kevin says:

    This really strikes me as just old people telling the kids to get off their lawn. We all value the players of our youth, but you can’t let that colour your perception of who they were and the era they played in.

    Like someone else mentioned, Cobb and Ruth and that era didn’t play with black players. Put a huuuge * there.

    People in the 60’s to the 80’s used amphetamines like they were chewing gum. Players in that era also started using steroids.

    No era is clean. Now I’ll get off your lawn.

  45. 45
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Kevin:

    A HOF without Bonds is not a HOF.

    A HoF without Bonds but with Gaylord Perry is a joke.

  46. 46
    Kevin says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    That’s not the point of amphetamines. They are used as a pick me up and attention focuser, because 162 games and over 500 at bats can get mentally exhausting. They are most certainly a performance enhancer, and have been banned for decades. Hank was breaking the rules more than Sosa and McGuire were (as the things they were on at the time were legal. Remember when McGuire was “caught” with a jar of andro, a steroid, in his locker during the home run chase? Oh, did i say caught? I mean, he had it in the open, and no one cared because it was perfectly legal at the time)

  47. 47
    Cacti says:

    @Kevin:

    People in the 60′s to the 80′s used amphetamines like they were chewing gum. Players in that era also started using steroids.

    Former pitcher Tom House, drafted in 1967 and in the bigs from 71-78 said players were using gear during his entire baseball career.

    Not sure where the idea started that PEDs were invented by Jose Canseco in 1987.

  48. 48
    Kevin says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Ah, but Gaylord Perry was a loveable cheater! He smiled while cheating, so it’s all good.

  49. 49
    Wally Ballou says:

    I already posted this in an earlier thread, but here’s Vin Scully’s outstanding radio call for the visiting Dodgers that night. Be sure to listen all the way through.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvfYg_kNtTk

    And, just for shits, here’s a cute little novelty song commemorating the event, cowritten by another announcing great (and Atlanta native), the late Ernie Harwell:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GZPMr0ZCx0

  50. 50
    Cacti says:

    @Kevin:

    That’s not the point of amphetamines. They are used as a pick me up and attention focuser, because 162 games and over 500 at bats can get mentally exhausting. They are most certainly a performance enhancer, and have been banned for decades.

    Then in the 1970s-80s you had guys playing with a vial of cocaine in their back pocket for a little pick me up between innings.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hungry Joe:
    One of the great things about Vin Scully is that he’s obviously a baseball fan first and a Dodgers fan second. He wants the Dodgers to win, but he’ll get excited about great baseball even when the Dodgers come out second best. There are too many announcers who are homers first last and always and aren’t willing to give the other team credit for anything.

  52. 52
    Kevin says:

    @Cacti:

    Yup. Coke was a huge problem in sports in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Almost destroyed the NBA. Players were basically sniffing coke on the bench (towel over their head, hide in plain site).

  53. 53
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Kevin: And Pete Rose was a hustling white guy, so his betting on the games he managed was no big whoop, either.

  54. 54
    Kevin says:

    @Wally Ballou:

    indeed. but honestly, i’d put Pete Rose in the HOF too. It’s a museum. You can’t pretend that people didn’t exist because they embarrass you. He, and Bonds, and Clemens are all all time greats who were big parts of the game for long periods of time. To pretend they didn’t play is just silly. I hate the voters for the HOF.

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @OldBean:

    Put an asterisk on Rose’s hits record because he did amphetamines by the handful (like many of his generation).

    And, though his fans conveniently forget about it, Rose let an admitted steroid dealer live in his home and worked out at the gym where the guy sold his product. For a contemporary player, that would be enough to convict him of steroid use in the court of public opinion no matter how many drug tests he passed. For Rose, it’s ignored along with the gambling.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @opiejeanne: The Sixties did not end until Nixon’s resignation. In August of 1974.

    The Sixties, btw, started on November 22, 1963.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @Geeno:

    Isn’t Cal Ripken’s record pretty much just for showing up?

    It’s not just for showing up. You don’t get put in the lineup every day just by showing up, or even by staying healthy. You have to be productive enough that you’re worth putting in the lineup that often, even when your body gets worn down by playing every day. There’s a reason the third longest consecutive games streak (1307 games by Everett Scott) is less than half as long as Ripken’s, and why there have been fewer than 10 that are even 1/3 as long.

  58. 58
    Tractarian says:

    As far as I’m concerned, any one who played professional baseball in any year since 1965 is presumably a dirty, no-good cheater.

    Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, and Maris. There are your legitimate record-holders right there.

  59. 59
    Tractarian says:

    @Roger Moore:

    For Rose, it’s ignored along with the gambling.

    Ignored? Dude was banned for life!

  60. 60
    Hungry Joe says:

    Since Aaron is my hero, my god, my everything in baseball, anything I say about him should be … questioned, at least. So with that in mind: As for ‘roids, Aaron was pretty much 6’0, 180 his whole career, from the mid 1950s on. He put on a few pounds as he got into his late ’30s and early ’40s, but he never bulked up.

    I’ll admit that in today’s faster, super-athletic game he’d probably hit .250 with 15-20 home runs. Of course, he’s 80 years old.

    (Old joke. Sorry.)

  61. 61
    Tractarian says:

    Also, too:

    At some point, maybe next year, maybe next decade, Vin Scully will finally ascend to that golden press booth in the sky.

    That would be a good point for baseball to cease to exist.

  62. 62
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah, but there’s no way I’m going to buy that every single day he was the best possible player they could field. No one is that good. Streaks are dumb anyway. There was a concussion documentary on ESPN that was suggesting Gehrig playing through concussions might have led to his ALS.

  63. 63
    Tractarian says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Haven’t you been reading the thread? He wasn’t juiced up on ‘roids, he was hopped up on speed.

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:

    @Cacti:

    Not sure where the idea started that PEDs were invented by Jose Canseco in 1987.

    I don’t know where it was invented, but I’m sure that it’s been promoted by fans of the greats of earlier eras who want an excuse to ignore everything that’s happened since.

  65. 65
    Tractarian says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Yeah, but there’s no way I’m going to buy that every single day he was the best possible player they could field. No one is that good.

    Exactly. Ripken, like all of these other “record” “holders”, is a complete fraud. No one else ever even attempted to play 15 seasons without missing a game because no one else was that insane.

    Also too, no one else had their dad for a manager.

  66. 66
    efgoldman says:

    @Roger Moore:

    You have to be productive enough that you’re worth putting in the lineup that often, even when your body gets worn down by playing every day.

    True, but the last season and a half or so, a player with Ripken’s stats,and without a record streak to protect, wouldn’t have been in the lineup every day.

    @Cacti:

    Not sure where the idea started that PEDs were invented by Jose Canseco in 1987.

    Mostly with Jose Canseco.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The Sixties did not end until Nixon’s resignation. In August of 1974.

    A lot of people say Altamont, in ’69.

  67. 67
    efgoldman says:

    @Tractarian:

    Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, and Maris. There are your legitimate record-holders right there.

    Cobb was a racist, a murderer, and probably threw games.

  68. 68
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tractarian:

    Dude was banned for life!

    Dude accepted a ban for life and acknowledged that the Commissioner of Baseball had grounds for banning him. But in the eyes of his fans (which is what I really meant) that is ignored and he is treated as the party who was wronged in the affair. I think it goes back to the previous article about people who have a committed belief being happy to ignore evidence that contradicts their views.

  69. 69
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Tractarian: Do you know that Aaron was “hopped up on speed,” or just that “everyone,” i.e., 100% of Major League players, were, and he was one of them, therefore …

    I’m not saying he wasn’t, because what do I know? And I’m not at all rational when it comes to Aaron. But — do you KNOW?

  70. 70
    efgoldman says:

    @Tractarian:

    Also too, no one else had their dad for a manager.

    Only for a couple of years.

  71. 71
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Tractarian: Don’t forget Hack Wilson.

    @efgoldman: You could also make a case for December 8, 1980. And/or November 4 of that same year.

  72. 72
    Kevin says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Aaron admitted to taking amphetamines. Like every other player of his era.

  73. 73
    efgoldman says:

    @Wally Ballou:

    You could also make a case for December 8, 1980. And/or November 4 of that same year.

    I don’t think so. To me, it felt like they were over in ’68, when MLK and RFK were killed, and the police riots at the Dem convention basically fucked the [presidential] party until 1992.

    ETA: I was in my early 20s, out of school, trying to not get drafted.

  74. 74
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Kevin: ***SIGH*** Hadn’t heard that, but I’ll take your word for it.

  75. 75
    Kevin says:

    @Tractarian:

    is that a joke? those players played pre-segregation, meaning they didn’t play against the best players. They played against some of the best players, but the Negro league had some greats too.

    Strangely, we don’t treat the Negro League records with the same reverence we treat MLB records of the same era…Josh Gibson hit between 800-100 career home runs in the Negro League (accurate records are hard to come by). How many would he have hit in MLB? Who knows. Maybe less, but why do we not hold him on the same level as the white MLB players of the same era?

    Heck, why isn’t Satchel Paige talked about as one of the greatest pitchers of all time? He didn’t even get to play in MLB until he was 42, and he played until he was 47. In that time, as a guy who should be retired, he still managed to be a 2 time all star and finish with a basically .500 record.

    No record is pure.

  76. 76
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Yeah, but there’s no way I’m going to buy that every single day he was the best possible player they could field.

    I accept your basic argument but I’m willing to dispute the details. It’s entirely possible that a manager who looked at the Orioles roster before every game and picked the player who had the best expected performance for that game would have kept writing Ripken’s name in the lineup for long enough for him to break Gehrig’s record. He really was a fantastic player, and for a lot of his career the Orioles other options at shortstop sucked- possibly because they weren’t looking very hard for a backup.

    The problem with his streak is that the manager needs to look beyond today’s game and consider the bigger picture. There’s excellent statistical evidence that Ripken had a pattern of wearing down more than usual over the course of a season; his numbers for the last two months of the season are obviously worse than for the first four. It’s hard not to blame that on his playing every day. I suspect he would have done his team more good if his manager had given him a break once in a while so he could maintain his performance better as the season wore on. Getting a better performance from Ripken would more than make up for his missing a game every few weeks.

  77. 77
    Kevin says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    He admitted it in his autobiography. He said he only took it to get out of a deep slump he was in. Could be telling the truth, but honestly, it was so prevalent in the era, hard to say if he is lying.

    Not to say i care. The season is ridiculously long! Can you match an amphetamine with say, 5 coffee’s before a game? Can you match steroids with legal supplements? The line is always moving.

  78. 78
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Kevin: That’s not the point of amphetamines. They are used as a pick me up and attention focuser, because 162 games and over 500 at bats can get mentally exhausting. They are most certainly a performance enhancer

    They were widely used in endurance sports. Tom Simpson fell over and died during the 1967 Tour de France because of amphetamines.

  79. 79
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kevin:

    Strangely, we don’t treat the Negro League records with the same reverence we treat MLB records of the same era…Josh Gibson hit between 800-100 career home runs in the Negro League (accurate records are hard to come by).

    I think your second point explains your first. We don’t give a lot of credence to Negro League records because until quite recently* they’ve been scant and unreliable. The Negro Leagues also had relatively few league games mixed in with a lot of barnstorming against anyone who would play them for a favorable share of the gate. For example, the best available stats for Josh Gibson give him only 107 HR (in a bit over 1800 AB) against league opponents, a far cry from the 800-1000 people talk about. The bigger numbers are approximate because they include unsanctioned games against third- and fourth-rate competition. Babe Ruth’s numbers would look a lot better if you included his in-season exhibitions, spring training, and off-season barnstorming games.

    *There is ongoing research through available box scored to get better stats for the Negro Leagues. The last I heard, statistics are available based on more than 90% of the league sanctioned games, and they’re working hard to fill in the gaps. This is a massive improvement over anything that was available even 10 years ago.

  80. 80
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kevin:

    Can you match an amphetamine with say, 5 coffee’s before a game?

    And how does that compare against a therapeutic use exemption for ADHD drugs? This is not a theoretical question, either. Therapeutic use exemptions are ridiculously common, and spiked upward at exactly the time that MLB started to crack down seriously on amphetamines. It’s hard not to see ritalin as the new, permissible alternative.

  81. 81
    Desert Rat says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Loved this comment.

    Growing up, I was a huge fan of Hank Aaron. I still am. I didn’t understand racism in those days (still don’t really). All I knew is that here was this quiet guy who packed one hell of a wallop. Later, when I learned what he went through while chasing this record, I realized I’d picked a good sports hero.

    Love Hammerin’ Hank. Maybe even more now than I did then as a kid.

  82. 82
    Kevin says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Interesting, hadn’t heard that. Still, i believe the point stands. Those early MLB players didn’t play against a lot of great players. If those players had the chance to compete, they would have done something. Look at how black players did when they finally started getting the chance. Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds.

  83. 83
    Kevin says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Therapeutic use exemptions are ridiculous. The NFL has like 40% of their players on ritalin now for ADHD. Ritalin is an amphetamine.

    MMA fighers until just last month were getting therapeutic exemptions for testosterone. That’s insane. I mean, some people absolutely need an exemption (I have doctor administered steroids every 2 months as part of my treatment for Crohn’s…i’m not an athlete, but if I were, I’d need one for sure), but most of these are jokes.

  84. 84
    redoubt says:

    @the Conster:Yes, that was really Bill Buckner. He would hit .250 in that year’s World Series, and would play in four decades.

    PS–Tom Seaver’s favorite player, growing up? Hank Aaron.

  85. 85
    James E. Powell says:

    @opiejeanne:

    So, it’s not the 60s, it happened in 1974

    I don’t believe decades and eras named after decades are necessarily coterminous. The way I see it, the era that we refer to as “the 60s” began on November 22, 1963, and ended on August 9, 1974.

  86. 86
    James E. Powell says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Holy shit! Somebody agrees with me. I posted my comment, above, before I read yours.

  87. 87
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: Oh yeah, I never payed much attention to the Orioles, but I’d buy that he was the best position player on the team for all the years of his streak. But for the reason you mentioned, it was probably not the best use of his ability. It’s impressive in the sense that it took determination, but it’s not on the level of something like Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak.

    EDIT- of course the hit streak is a high bar…

  88. 88
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kevin:
    You don’t have to convince me that the best of the Negro Leaguers would have fared well in MLB; I know about the state of Negro League statistics because I care. The best Negro League players would have given the best from MLB a run for their money, as the limited number of barnstorming games between Negro League and Major League players showed, and as African American players showed when the color line came down. My point, such as it is, is that you can swing too far the other way in mythologizing the Negro Leagues. The numbers you hear about are mostly estimates, wild guesses, or blatant exaggerations. My hope is that having some actual, official statistics will help to make the accomplishments of Negro Leaguers more concrete and meaningful, as well as giving us greater insight into who the greatest players actually were.

    I think it’s also important to give Bud Selig the credit he deserves for his role in this, and in working for more equality in baseball in general. He was a big motivating force for and financial backer of the attempt to get statistics for all the Negro League games, and it’s not a one time thing. He has done some mostly symbolic things, like retiring Jackie Robinson’s number throughout the game, but a lot of tangible ones, too. He instituted baseball’s version of the Rooney Rule and followed through himself by hiring African Americans in important roles in the game. He also created baseballs “Reviving Baseball in Inner cities” program, which is an attempt to get more poor kids involved in the game. Selig takes a lot of shit, much of it deserved, but he deserves real credit for working on behalf of minorities.

  89. 89
    Anton Sirius says:

    @Kevin:

    I have doctor administered steroids every 2 months as part of my treatment for Crohn’s…i’m not an athlete, but if I were, I’d need one for sure

    To be fair, the steroids we get (I have Crohn’s too, although I’m still doing OK on imuran) are a bit different than what athletes use…

    Side note: I have told my doctor that if anyone ever tried to prescribe prednisone to me again they are taking their life into their hands. That shit is pure evil.

  90. 90
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    It’s impressive in the sense that it took determination, but it’s not on the level of something like Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak.

    DiMaggio’s hit streak is interesting, but it still seems like a freak stat. His value as a player wouldn’t have changed much if he had gotten one hit less in a game where he got just one hit and one more in a multi-hit game, but it could completely upend the streak. Or, on the flip side, if Bill Dahlen had moved one hit around the opposite direction, he could have had a 71 game hit streak in 1894, but it wouldn’t make him a HOFer. (Well, maybe it would; Dahlen is perhaps the best 19th Century player not in the Hall, and a gaudy record like that might be enough to put him over the top.)

    If I were going to pick a truly amazing record, it would be Rickey Henderson’s career stolen bases. He has almost exactly 50% more than Lou Brock in second place, which is easily the biggest lead for any of the big name positive stats. (Nolan Ryan has a slightly bigger percentage lead for most walks surrendered, but nobody wants to lead in that stat.) And it’s not something like Cy Young’s wins, where the game has changed in a way that made it nearly impossible for people in any other era to compete for the record.

  91. 91
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Roger Moore: I think it’s interesting that the boom years for stolen bases are also the boom years for cocaine.

  92. 92
    Roger Moore says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    And Ty Cobb was a big investor in Coca Cola. Coincidence? I think not!

  93. 93
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Or, on the flip side, if Bill Dahlen had moved one hit around the opposite direction, he could have had a 71 game hit streak in 1894, but it wouldn’t make him a HOFer. (Well, maybe it would; Dahlen is perhaps the best 19th Century player not in the Hall, and a gaudy record like that might be enough to put him over the top.)

    Well, Joe Tinker got in for being in a poem with two actual HOFers, so…

  94. 94
    Wally Ballou says:

    Awesome Joe Posnanski essay (but I repeat myself) regarding Aaron’s place in baseball history.

    Henry Aaron is NOT The Home Run King. This sounds like I’m going to follow up with some rant about Barry Bonds breaking his record and how terrible that was … but I’m not. My thought here has nothing to do with that. Henry Aaron is not the Home Run King because that silly title would do nothing but diminish his greatness.

  95. 95
    Wally Ballou says:

    http://p.washingtontimes.com/n.....irts-and-/

    Baseball legend Hank Aaron, 80, acknowledged race relations have changed since his threat-filled days chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record — but said modern tormenters still exist wearing suits and ties instead of KKK hoods.

    “We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Mr. Aaron told USA Today.

    He went on, expressing both the good and bad of where race relations in the United States now stand: “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.

    “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts,” he said.

  96. 96
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Wally Ballou: So true. Good to see him speaking out about racism.

  97. 97
    Kevin says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    I have mixed feelings on prednisone. On one hand, it worked amazingly. I felt “healed” in like a week, and i put on about 30 pounds (which was a very good thing, because i had lost about 30 pounds). But, my face basically exploded while i was on it. Looked like someone had inflated my face with helium. Glad I haven’t needed it in the past 8 years, but I can’t say I have any negative feelings about my uses. Once I went off it, my face returned to normal.

    Imuran works for you? Lucky, that stuff was like water for me. No use at all. Been on remicade 8 years, but thankfully symptom free for the most part. And thankfully, none of the bad side effects.

  98. 98
    WaterGirl says:

    @Wally Ballou: Wow. I’m impressed. Nice to see someone tell it like it is without sugar coating it.

  99. 99
    Bill in Section 147 says:

    Hank Aaron was my favorite growing up and still is. I think Willie Mays was the best ball player and Babe Ruth was second because of his pitching. I really do not care about asterisks or any of that. Loved to watch Bonds, enjoyed Mark McGwire and Canseco. Loved to hate Clemons, Drysdale and Greg Maddox. Could never hate Sandy Koufax though. I really do not give a fig about who has what record. I love the day-to-day of the game and the anticipation that comes when someone with skill gets an opportunity.

    I really love football but the single-most moment I enjoy in sports is the time the pitcher is holding the ball, getting ready to deliver, with the game on the line. It happens a couple times in most games and seems like most every pitch in the play-offs. All it takes is once in your life to be at a game where your team is down 6-1 in the bottom of the ninth and witness a walk-off to realize that no game is over till the last out.

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