Monday, August 6, 2007

I Digress

I remember watching Hank Aaron's 1974 record-breaking home run like it was yesterday; it was one of those 'chills down your back' moments from my childhood. I didn't even watch Bonds break Aaron's record, and frankly, couldn't care less that he did. The two events have about as much in common as a real wedding cake and the cardboard variety that's iced for display, but you wouldn't dare take a bite.

The youngest of three girls, I was my father's daughter. I was the one he taught to throw a football, shoot a basketball and to love baseball. Growing up in North Carolina, he was- and I was- an avid Braves fans at a time when the team was more accustomed to the basement of the league than making it to the playoffs. Still, the Braves were his passion, and he watched every game he could, and I sat right beside him while he explained in great detail, the rules of the game.

He didn't seem to mind pulling for the underdog, after all, I suspect that being a son of sharecroppers during the Depression, he could identify. On just one occasion, in 1970, we drove from NC to Atlanta and came to a Braves game. It didn't matter that the Braves lost badly, it was the coolest vacation on record as far as he and I were concerned.

Besides, there were the players we both admired. I remember watching Ralph Garr run to first base in six seconds and seeing Phil Niekro pitch, sometimes with a little something extra on the ball. But Hank Aaron topped the list of favorites. So, in April of 1974, when he knocked 715 out of the park, he instantly moved from favorite to hero. Sure, I remember the talk about the short fences at the Braves' home field, but with Aaron, there was never really any question that both he, and the record, were the real deal, the genuine article. With Bonds, there will always be a question.

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