So often in life we define a person in a sentence or a phase. In baseball, a number. Instinctively Henry “Hank” Aaron’s is defined as “Home Run King” or “755” but there is so much more to his legacy than baseballs clearing fences and “I Had A Hammer” does a tremendous job or bringing his true legacy to life.
Aaron himself penned this novel along with Lonnie Wheeler and on many occasions you can feel the sincerity, the frustration, the rage, and the joy Aaron experienced as he relived his life. This is his story, told his way. He takes you into the batter’s box with him but also into the segregated South and ultimately on the trip around the bases when he hit home run 715 and broke Babe Ruth’s hallowed record.
Jackie Robinson gets acclaim for integrating the modern major leagues and justifiably so. But Aaron had the thankless task of integrating the South Atlantic League. Far away from the spotlight and the only black man on his team, he traveled through Georgia, Florida and Texas while trying to climb his way from the Negro Leagues to the big time. This aspect of his life is so often overlooked due to the magic of 755.
Aaron was a part of a generation that lived through so many chapters of American history. The Great Depression, the Negro Leagues, integration, segregation, the Civil Rights movement, there are so many pieces to Aaron’s life beyond baseball.
But the baseball part was pretty good too. A 23 year run in which he claimed the most hallowed record in American sports and vaulted into the Hall of Fame. And that is all here in the book.
If you want to truly “meet” Hank Aaron this is a great way to do so. And after reading this book many things other than “755” should pop in your head when you hear his name.