For Hank Aaron, the way things are now are not too different from how things were when he sought to break Babe Ruth’s home run record. So much so that he sees a bit of himself in President Barack Obama, who has had his struggles with a resistant GOP since he first took office.
“Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Aaron shared with USA Today Sports while comparing the GOP’s efforts to stall Obama’s initiatives to the Ku Klux Klan. “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.”
“The bigger difference,” he added, “is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
Aaron’s comes as the 80-year-old baseball legend was honored last week as his original team, the Atlanta Braves took on the New York Mets for the 40th anniversary of his 715th home run, according to CBS Atlanta. Aaron finished his baseball career with 755, a record that stood until Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run in 2007.
Despite four decades going by since he surpassed Ruth’s home run record on April 8, 1974, Aaron still keeps a few painful letters he received as a reminder to himself of what the country was like back in his day and how little things have actually changed in current times. While it may seem strange to some that Aaron would keep those letter, to him, there is a reason behind it.
“To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself,” he said. “A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”