It was April 8th, 1974 and I was 9 years old. I was watching a nationally televised baseball game featuring the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Glued to the television and clutching my brand-new Hank Aaron “714” baseball mitt, I was waiting anxiously to watch my hero come to the plate. I can still smell the leather of the glove. Aaron was tied with Babe Ruth as the Home Run King and his next homer would leave him standing alone. I’ll never forget it – his second at bat against Al Downing was hit over the left-field wall and as he rounded the bases, he was mobbed by two fans who somehow managed to elude the police. It was quite a scene and a thrill for this young fan. I remember how gracious “The Hammer” was in his comments before, during, and after the chase. Ruth was a legend and Aaron endured much hatred and contempt. His graciousness under these circumstances was more heroic than his accomplishment.
Now, 12,173 days later, Bobby Bonds stands alone as the new Home Run King. This article isn’t about blasting Barry Bonds. This is his time, plus there are enough people to tackle that job anyway. This is about a man who 33 years later still exudes graciousness. Hank Aaron wasn’t in San Francisco last night for the festivities. He had said all along he had no interest in attending and stuck to his word. However, he did issue a video statement that was played on the big screen congratulating Bonds for his “skill, longevity, and determination.” He considered himself “privileged” to have held the record and sent his best wishes to Bonds and his family. In conclusion, he said this, “My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams”.
It makes mo wonder if I’m always gracious in challenging times. How about you? If we can learn anything from Henry Aaron, it’s this; baseball records will come and go, but what stands forever is the character of a human being.
Oh, by the way, read his final statement one more time. Are you still chasing your dreams? As my friend Jim Key has said, “It’s never too late to dream”! My hope is that you will be inspired to keep your dreams, whatever they may be, alive and well.