State hero celebrates birthday

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hank Aaron celebrated his 75th Thursday. It’s hard to think of him as a senior citizen.

Most of us baseball fans mark the day he set the MLB record for most career home runs with 715 like we mark our children’s and grandchildren’s first steps. It was off Al Downing in the Braves’ home opener with Los Angeles in the fourth inning.

Downing hurled a high fastball into Aaron’s zone. The Hammer took a mighty swing and sent the ball flying toward the 385-foot sign in left center field.

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Aaron went on to log in 755 home runs and held that record for 33 years until Barry Bonds broke it on Aug. 7, 2007.

The key to Aaron on the diamond was his consistency. He hit at least two dozen or more home runs for 18 years. He’s also the only play to hit 30 or more home runes in a season at least 15 times.

OK. So these are numbers. Look at this: three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards; National League Most Valuable Player Award (1957) the one year during his career he was on a World Series winner. He was fifth in The Sporting News’ “Greatest Baseball Players.”

Aaron is a product of Alabama. He has never forgotten his home state.

A lot of folks celebrated Aaron. It’s just the right thing to do.