Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Hammer

It’s hard to talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and not mention Hank Aaron. They covered a lot of the same ground. I’m sure Aaron would be embarrassed at being mentioned with one of the world’s great leaders, but his contributions should not be overlooked.

Aaron spoke out when it was hard, and in some cases dangerous, to do so. Most ballplayers are quiet on political and social issues, which is certainly understandable. There are enough challenges for a high-profile player without having to answer the types of questions even politicians try to avoid.

Players tend to take the lower-profile route of starting individual foundations. They do a lot of good, but have a hard time achieving the wide social change started by Jackie Robinson and continued by Aaron. This is not meant as a slight to all the other players who fought for justice from Rube Foster to Carlos Delgado. This is a celebration of Aaron, a man who has never liked to celebrate himself.

Even in his book, I Had A Hammer, Aaron defers to Robinson:

"I once read a quote from Jackie that speaks for me, too. He said, 'Life owes me nothing. Baseball owes me nothing. But I cannot as an individual rejoice in the good things I have been permitted to work for and learn while the humblest of my brothers is down in a deep hole hollering for help and not being heard.' All I can say to that is, Amen."

Yes, Amen.

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