Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hammerin' Hank Aaron in Recent interview with TSN's Steve Greenberg

The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg interviewed Hall of Famer, #44, Hammerin' Hank Aaron.
We will get to that in a moment, after I look up trivia regarding the Oh Henry candy bar.

I looked up the history of the Oh Henry candy bar and got a couple of nuggets I'd like to share with you. Because I thought the bar was like Baby Ruth for George Herman Ruth and Oh Henry
was for Hammerin' Hank, Henry Aaron, the Hall of Fame hitting machine.

There was a promotional effort in the 1970s to re-introduce the candy bar among consumers in honor of the Milwaukee/Atlanta Brave Hall of Famer, Henry "Hank" Aaron.

Henry Rodriguez, a former Montreal Expo and Chicago Cubs outfielder who on May 23, 1995 was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Montreal Expos for Roberto Kelly (now a Giants' 1st base coach.) In 1996, as an Expo he belted 36HRs and in 1998, as a Cub he hit 31 more homers. This Oh Henry struck out way more than times walked. He fanned 803 times and walked 276. Anyway, Rodriguez, Henry had an honor bestowed upon him whenever he hit a "big fly." The fans would toss Oh Henry bars onto the field (I guess Canadians like that sort of thing, what with the hat trick in hockey) and it carried over to the Wrigley Field crowd when Henry Rodriguez was a Cub. (I recall going to a day game at the 'Stick. A bee-yoo-tee ful day and Ole Henry belted a couple of homers at Candlestick Park and all he got then was the dove clap by two fans who also began the booing for the pitcher. The pitcher? Kirk Rueter. Woody got booed. I expected the wind to gust but instead the temperature rose and the wind stayed away.)

Steve Greenberg's interview, in the March 16, 2009 Sporting News magazine...
Who's the best player in the game today? The player I think I like the best is the kid over at second base for Philly- (Chase) Utley. I love him. He's always got things under control. He's a throwback.

A whole lot of people-maybe most people-say Willie Mays was the best player of your era. Should he come before you in the pecking order? I don't know. He was flamboyant in what he did.

You are first all-time in RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases; third in hits; fourth in runs scored. You were named to 24 All-Star teams. No one else has numbers like yours. I was not flashy. If you saw me Monday, I might go out and hit three base hits, a home run. Tuesday I might have two base hits, a home run. I did it on a more consistent basis than anybody else. But other than that, I didn't try to catch the ball down below my waist. Willie was very flamboyant. He did a lot of things that people would pay to come see.

Would you have been tempted by steroids? Can you imagine it? I don't know. I probably would've had as much temptation as anybody else. I'm not exempted from that. I probably would have been tempted to do it. The reason for that is a lot of dollar bills. A lot of money was floating out there. You have to remember that if a young kid was coming up in that era, and he's sitting over in the corner and looking over at Barry's chiseled physique, with muscles like Popeye's, he's going to say, "Hey, what do I have to do to start looking like that? Start hitting home runs? Start pitching like somebody else?"

The last quote by Hammerin' Hank says it all. And those with the privilege of voting for who gets into the baseball Hall of Fame should know this. Live it and breathe it, because if a player of Hank Aaron's stature says he wasn't exempted from it, isn't that good enough to reconsider that the player was only trying to do the best he could do to help his teammates win and play the game the way he thought it should be played. To do his best, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

Listen to Hank, you privileged few who vote. It's not about your personal feelings. Never was. Vote for those who changed the game. Those who added to the game something that before them was only an imaginary field of dreams.

(thanks to Steve Greenberg for asking Hammerin' Hank the questions that pertain to today's game.)

Kevin Marquez