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It’s the 40th anniversary of Aaron’s 715th homer — but please, don’t call him the Home Run King

Apr 8, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT

40 years ago tonight Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. It’s a moment always worth re-visiting, so let’s:

I can never get enough of that video. Just how easy Aaron’s swing was, even 20 years into his career. Buckner climbing the outfield wall. Those wackos running onto the field and congratulating Aaron. I mean, the guy had death threats leading up to that moment and suddenly two dudes run up from behind you like that? If that happened today those two would be in Guantanamo or something.

One thing I love from the video is Al Downing’s recollection of it all. He gave up the homer and, unlike some other pitchers who would up on the other side of famous hits, he had absolutely no problem with it, acknowledging that, sometimes, the guy on the other side of things is going to get the best of you. And when it’s someone as insanely-talented as Hank Aaron, that’s going to be way more often.

My enjoyment of all of this stuff is unsurpassed. But it is just enjoyment.

One thing we’ve heard more and more of in the past few years is that Hank Aaron’s 715th home run remains — even to this day — the moment when baseball’s Home Run King was crowned. That when Aaron was passed by Barry Bonds in August of 2007 it somehow didn’t count. We heard it again just yesterday afternoon and I expect we’ll hear more of it today.

I understand this. From an enjoyment perspective I found Bonds hitting number 756 off Mike Bacsik to be far less moving. Indeed, it wasn’t particularly moving at all given all of the controversy surrounding Bonds by that time, the arguments it entailed and the fact that, unlike Aaron, Bonds was never anyone you rooted for, even if you admired his accomplishments. I appreciated his dominance, but I can’t say I found it aesthetically pleasing most of the time. Certainly not as pleasing as watching old video of Aaron. And, yes, even someone like me who has made a second career out of defending PED-users from excessive, counterfactual criticism, I can appreciate that Hank Aaron’s accomplishment is more impressive than Bonds’ on a qualitative level given Bonds’ drug use, the small parks he hit in, the equipment he had at his disposal and a host of other factors.

But with all respect to Mr. Aaron, I do draw the line at asserting the counterfactual. He is not baseball’s all-time home run leader. Or its “true” Home Run King or however people wish to characterize it. To say that is to go beyond expressing your enjoyment of his accomplishment and your appreciation of him as a player and claiming that those qualitative things — and whatever disdain one has for Barry Bonds — trump the actual record of history. The record of history — which is devoid of judgment and opinion — states that Barry Bonds hit more home runs than Hank Aaron did. Baseball recognizes this fact without qualification.

We should as well. To do otherwise is to invite chaos, as each of us brings our own values and assumptions into an assessment of the records. Maybe that’s easy to do with an Aaron-Bonds comparison, but what if I were to point out that the top five all-time pitching wins leaders had ridiculous advantages that Warren Spahn never had, thus rendering him the “True Wins Leader?” What if I were to note that Ty Cobb had similar disadvantages that Pete Rose never had and thus he was the True Hit King? We could do this with most records. Doing so would be silly in most instances and would render the idea of an actual record book — the thing people who call Hank Aaron the True Home Run King say they are trying to protect — and utterly meaningless thing.

So celebrate Hank Aaron. Hold him in higher esteem than you would Barry Bonds. Consider his accomplishments more impressive if you feel that way. But stop there. Don’t claim that black is white. Don’t claim that Hank Aaron is the real and true Home Run King. Because that’s just nonsense.

133 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. pete2112 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    “But, you see, it’s not the fantasy world. It’s the real world. In the end the only arbiter of the records is Major League Baseball. They hold the record books and they certify the records. We may not like the results, but in the end that is what the record is.”

    Well at least MLB has cracked down somewhat on the issues that plagued the 80’s-00’s steroid era. Not to say Selig/MLB is not just as responsible as the players themselves, but at least they’re making amends with the fans. You’re right though, the records are what they are but for the players to hang on to the fantasy that they did it clean is the sad part and me being the fan has/have the right to separate inflated drug induced records with real numbers done fairly.

  2. Matthew - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Reblogged this on Carolina Mountain Blue and commented:
    For what it’s worth, I agree: while Hank Aaron’s accomplishment of 715 home runs is worthy of praise, to say that he is the “home run king” does a disrespect to the ACTUAL home run king, Barry Bonds…you know, the one the history books have down as home run king. Like certain victories over in the motorsports world (such as Danica Patrick’s win at Motegi back in 2008), the tides of history about the circumstances; all history concerns itself with is the who and the when.

  3. irishmanknowsall - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    The difference between these two is that the public perception is that Hank did it the right way. He has never, ever been tainted as having taken any legal or illegal substances that would assist him in hitting all those homers. Barry is forever tainted, whether he likes it or not. Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four that MLB clubhouses were full of amphetamines back in the 60’s and 70’s. If we believe him, then the next step was body-building. We saw what happened to the thin versions of Sammy, Barry, Mark, Jose, etc. Suddenly these guys are upper-body geniuses, hitting everything over the wall. This subject of drugs, legal and not, is a lengthy one. Society continues to evolve on its acceptance of such activities and substances. What we think we know, is that Hank played to his God-given natural abilities, equipped with steel wrists, apparently, and the heart of a champion. Barry and Mark et al apparently felt the need to use questionably legal substances to help themselves along. For that reason (perception) I for one consider Hank the home run champion.

    • Ben - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      What? Hank Aaron admitted in his autobiography to using amphetamines. And amphetamines are huge.

      “It was one thing to get steroids cleaned up, but most people agree that ridding the game of amphetamines has had an even bigger impact as far as the position players versus the pitchers,” one major league official told me. “Between the schedule – more and more weekday getaway games are being scheduled at night because of the teams’ local TV ratings considerations – and the fact that the position players play every day, not having the benefit of that extra ‘boost’ has clearly had an effect.”

      “There were 40 300-inning [pitcher] seasons from 1931-1960. There were 37 from 1971-1980. There has not been one since then … The amphetamine era featured just as many statistical anomalies as did the steroid era, but there was no connection between the two reported. No one cared. Why that is the case is a topic for a book, I’d imagine, but you cannot defend the idea that steroids alone fundamentally changed the game’s statistics in a way that the previous generation’s drug of choice didn’t.”

      Just start googling player accounts of using amphetamines. You’re in the zone, all the time. Your level of performance is clearly elevated.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Testing for amphetamines wasn’t approved until December 2005. So how exactly does that explain the lack of 300-inning pitchers from 1981-2013? Don’t you think that the switch to 5-man rotations, increased concern about the cost of arm injuries as salaries rose, and increased specialization of relievers are more likely reasons why pitchers stopped throwing 300 innings?

      • Ben - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Of course I do. And so does the author. It’s just a pull quote to illustrate another point.

      • shawndc04 - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Hank admitted to taking an amphetamine on one, that’s one, occasion. He did not like the effect and says he didn’t do it again. Now if you have proof that he’s lying, let’s see it.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        Ok, but it’s a bad example. I’m not sure who you were quoting in your post but they picked a very bad example if they were trying to illustrate the effects of amphetamines. What other statistical anomalies were there in the 1970s that could be linked to amphetamines? I’m also not sure what constitutes the “amphetamines era” since players used them in the ’60s and in the ’80s. So why did amphetamines increase innings pitched in the 1970s but not the 1960s? And what other “statistical anomalies” were there?

        HR totals weren’t noticeably higher in the 70s than they were in the ’60s. In fact, I believe they may have been lower. In the 1960s, the league leader in HRs for either league had less than 40 HRs 3 times out of 20 possible times (2 in the NL, 1 in the AL). In the 1970s, it happened 10 times (7 in the AL, 3 in the NL). If you look at batting averages, they went up slightly in the ’70s compared to the ’60s, but not by any amount that would make you think it was something suspicious (and remember, MLB lowered the mound beginning in 1969). In the 1970s, the league leader in slugging % was .600 or better 9 times compared to 12 times from 1960-1969 – again, even though the mound was lowered to help offense in 1969.

        On the pitching side, strikeouts did increase. The 1970s had 11 300-K seasons (5 from Nolan Ryan alone). The 1960s had 4 (all but 1 from Koufax). Shutouts among league leaders dropped slightly in the ’70s. From 1960-1969, there were 4 10+ shutout seasons by pitchers (only 1 in 1968, which surprised me) and 76 players with 5-9 shutouts in a season. In the 1970s, there was only 1 10+ shutout season and 77 with 5-9 shutouts. Overall, the numbers didn’t really change except for the double-digit seasons.

        There were 40 300-IP season from 70-79 compared to 25 from 60-69, so there was a definite increase there. but it’s hard to say why that was due to amphetamines if they were used by players in both decades. And when you see that several of those pitchers in the 1970s wound up with injuries soon after those 300+ IP seasons, it’s not a big leap to think that managers were getting greedy and wanted to use their best pitchers as much as possible without realizing the health risks involved. That seems even more likely when you see that there were 10 300+ IP seasons in the 1950s, so you have an increase of 15 per decade (coinciding with expansion and the added 8 games per season).

  4. youvebeenphaneufed - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    There’s a difference between an advantage stemming from the game evolving, and outright cheating. So your comparisons to Spahn, Cobb, etc, are irrelevant.

  5. thegreatmorpheos - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Barry Bonds already discredited himself, all by himself. He has no one to blame but the ugly guy he sees in the mirror.

    Long live the true Home Run King, Hammerin Hank Aaron.

  6. raysfan1 - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    To me, a lot of the issue is emotion. There are a lot of people with strong emotional attachments to Aaron’s 755, Maris’ 61, etc. Add to that the visceral reaction people have to perceived cheating, and you are guaranteed to have people insist Aaron is the real home run king and that Maris (or even Ruth) is the real single season home run king.

    For me, they are just numbers and cannot be fairly evaluated sans context. Take Hank Greenberg’s 58 homers in 1938…he hit one in a game that was called on account of rain before becoming official. That’s 59. In the 11 years between 1927 and 1938, the outfield wall configuration changed such that two ground rule doubles he hit would have been homers in 1927. Ruth was still the record holder, but it’s perfectly reasonable to argue Greenberg in 1938 was just as good as Ruth in 1927. We cannot really say 70 in 1998 or 73 in 2001 are better than 61 in 1961 or 60 in 1927. The competition was different. The schedules were different. Rules changed. Ballparks changed. Training methods changed. Likewise Bonds and Aaron faced different circumstances in different eras.

    Bonds hit the most home runs, period. He’s the record holder. That does not mean his performance was qualitatively better. As long as people can separate qualitative from quantitative, there’s no issue. “Home run king” is just a label; it’s okay to allow emotion to rule who gets that label so long is the fact of who actually hit the most home runs is also acknowledged. (Note “Home Run” Baker is still remembered as “Home Run” Baker even though he only hit 96, a record in the dead ball era but not even close now. Numbers are just numbers, and labels are just labels.)

    • stex52 - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Your argument is very well stated. But I would differ in the qualitative sense with this. In the many years I have watched baseball (going back to the early ’60’s), I have never seen teams as unwilling to pitch to any one player as they were to Bonds when he was at his highest point. That would include Mantle, Aaron, McCovey, Mays, Maris, etc.

      You didn’t have to like him (I didn’t) to concede that he dominated a game like virtually no one else in his prime.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        I agree (my baseball watching dates to 1970 when I was 7). However, again, it’s a different era in 2001 than in 1961. The pitcher’s mound was higher in 1961. There was no body armor in 1961. Pitchers like Bob Gibson or Robin Roberts would have hit him if they thought he was crowding the plate. I’ve never seen anyone dominate within his era like Barry Bonds, either. However, would he have hit as many in 1961? There is simply no way to know that because the conditions were very different.

      • stex52 - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        I will give you the body armor. That changed the approach for a lot of players. Probably him most of all.

  7. linhsiu - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Interesting how, for some strange reason, it can not be helped…

    Today is the anniversary of Aaron hitting 715… why you do you have to drag Bonds into it???

    Like you said the moment should be celebrated… definitely not mired in a silly debate regarding Bonds…

    Next year try following your own advice…

  8. hateonlyhatred - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Aaron is the home run king and Bonds is nothing more than a fraud. Steroids ENHANCE performance while amphetamines ENABLE performance. There is a difference. Just being able to get out on the field doesn’t enhance your performance. Taking drugs, tailored exactly to your body by chemists, to specifically make your performance better because you are jealous of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa is cheating. Bonds would look heroic right now if he’d just said no to steroids and hit his 500 plus homers. He’d be in the hall of fame instead of being the steroid poster boy. Bonds made his decision and now he has to live with it. I’m sorry to the generation who watched Bonds and thought he was so great, but you’ve been cheated. He cheated you and you should be pissed. Give your Bonds love to Ken Griffey Jr. because he did it the right way.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 8, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      Please don’t try to advance your cause by overstating your case to the point of being factually incorrect. I see your definition of cheating…and that’s fine. It’s perfectly reasonable to dislike Bonds based on that.

      Where you go wrong is in your attempt to parse semantics between enabling and enhancing performance. My first, and less important, counterpoint is that of course enabling performance is automatically also enhancing performance. Second is that many amphetamine users use the routinely and not just as a pill equivalent of a cup of coffee. They are absolutely used to give an immediate performance boost, to enchance concentration, focus, and speed reaction times. Amphetamines as a class of drugs are also more dangerous than steroids; they are addicting and can have severe and sometimes fatal side effects. Steroids are schedule III drugs under the Federal Controlled Substances Act since 1991 and amphetamines are schedule II since 1971–meaning they are more highly regulated and have been so for over 40 years precisely because they are more dangerous drugs.

      I repeat, feel free to dislike Barry Bonds; I don’t like him either. However, stop minimizing amphetamines. They are in fact performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) too and more dangerous to use.

      • hateonlyhatred - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        I can’t believe anyone would equate the use of amphetamines to the use of designer steroids. Bonds had tests performed on his body so that chemists could produce a steroid specifically for Bonds. A drug that would maximize his output. Chemists that had been designing these same type of drugs for Olympians with unbelievable success. Plus, I am not factually incorrect when I state that greenies helped get you on the field and didn’t provide any assistance other than that. They did not enhance performance but rather enabled it.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        I didn’t equate anything. Amphetamines and steroids are not the same. I didn’t even say one was a more effective PED than the other.

        What I said was amphetamines are PEDs, and they are. They have been used as PEDs (and not just as the equivalent of a cup of coffee) since the 1950s. The Sports Illustrated link above is to an article from that magazine discussing athletes’ use of amphetamines and other drugs as PEDs that was published in 1960.

        I also stated that as a class of drugs they are more risky to a person’s health than steroids. Again, that is why they are more highly regulated by the federal government than steroids are.

        The second and third links above list some of the adverse health effects of amphetamines. The third also again mentions their use of PEDs.

        There are many more links I could have given you, including to science and medicine journal articles on the topic, but if you actually read the attached articles it will hopefully make you realize abuse of amphetamines is not benign and not just a “performance enabler.”

      • hateonlyhatred - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        RAYSFAN1: Well, that clears everything up. Eh, not really. In fact, your articles support my position more than yours. Where to start, where to start. First of all my argument has nothing to do with the dangers of the drugs. I could care less if it’s PEDS or Amphetamines that are the most dangerous.

        In your SI article from 1960: Bruno Banducci, a onetime all-league guard in the National Football League who switched to Canadian football, admitted he had taken Benzedrine. “I could play through the whole game,” he said, “and not get tired.” THAT’S GREAT BUT NOWHERE DOES BANDUCCI SAY THAT BENZEDRINE (AMPHETAMINE) ENHANCED HIS PERFORMANCE.

        Banducci’s teammate didn’t seem to think it enhanced his performance:

        His teammate Tom Dublinski said he had taken Benzedrine, too, but not for several years. “They hopped me up too much,” he said. “That’s no good. A quarterback has to be steady.” BEING HOPPED UP TOO MUCH AND UNSTEADY ARE NOT THE TRAITS OF A PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG.

        The Smith-Beecher study tested 57 swimmers, runners and weight throwers. The degree of improvement under amphetamine was as much as 4% for weight throwers, 1% for runners and 1.16% for swimmers. SO THEY TESTED ATHLETES WHO DON’T HAVE TO RELY ON REFLEXES, WHICH BEING HOPPED UP WOULD NOT BE GOOD FOR, AND FOUND THAT THESE PERFORMERS HAD INCREASED NUMBERS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF AMPHETAMINES. CASE CLOSED, YOU WIN. OH WAIT……………MAYBE NOT.

        A few months later, in an amphetamine study of his own patterned on the Smith-Beecher experiments, Dr. Peter Karpovich, research professor of physiology at Springfield (Mass.) College, found that the results he obtained on swimmers and weight throwers substantiated the Harvard study, but those on runners generally did not. On one occasion Dr. Karpovich discovered the track men being tested actually ran slower on amphetamines. All of which would seem to indicate that while bennies are sometimes effective, they are not completely reliable as aids to performance. IN THIS STUDY TRACK MEN RAN SLOWER? AS ONE READS FURTHER, IF IT WERE TODAY, THAT LAST PART OF THAT LAST LINE WOULD READ: “THEY ARE NOT RELIABLE AS AIDS TO PERFORMANCE.” THIS WAS 1960. THEY DIDN’T KNOW YET.

        “They are quite useful,” says Dr. Berger, “in the treatment of persons who suffer from depression. But a normal person taking the drug without a doctor’s advice can be elevated to a hyper-excited level. He doesn’t get tired, he thinks he’s witty and he feels, probably quite rightly, that he has a great deal of strength. If he tends to be a person who is hyper-excited to begin with, the drug can make him go berserk.” There are other dangers as well. Since these drugs quicken the heart and raise the blood pressure, physicians must make certain the cardiovascular system is normal, or the subject may overstrain himself without knowing it, at the risk of serious illness or even death. BEING HYPER-EXCITED, “FEELING” LIKE YOU HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF STRENGTH, QUICKENING YOUR HEART AND RAISING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE HARDLY SCREAMS, “I’M GOING TO ENHANCE YOUR PERFORMANCE.”

        Amphetamines affect the brain, heart, lungs, and other organs. Users have feelings of increased alertness, attention, ability to complete some tasks faster, excitation, restlessness, and sometimes an unrealistic sense of power and euphoria. The physical effects include increased breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure, dilated pupils, and decreased appetite. These effects last 4 to 6 hours or even longer. AGAIN, NONE OF THIS SCREAMS PERFORMANCE ENHANCING. INCREASED ALERTNESS, EXCITATION AND RESTLESSNESS AREN’T GREAT TRAITS TO HAVE ON THE DIAMOND. IT SOUNDS LIKE THE FEELINGS OF ROOKIE PLAYING IN HIS FIRST BALLGAME.

        Larger doses may cause fever, sweating, headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness. Very high doses may cause an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, tremors, loss of coordination, seizures, high fever, heart failure, strokes, and collapse and death from burst blood vessels in the brain. LARGER DOSE ISSUES. AFTER ALL, THOSE PLAYERS ATE THEM LIKE CANDY. THERE’S A LOT OF PERFORMANCE ENHANCING TRAITS THERE. LOL.

        Amphetamines, sometimes called “speed” or “uppers,” are central nervous system stimulant drugs that increase alertness, self-confidence and concentration, and decrease appetite while creating a feeling of increased energy. The chemical structure is similar to the naturally occurring adrenaline and noradrenaline that is produced by the body. The effects of amphetamines are similar to cocaine, but last longer. THE EFFECTS OF AMPHETAMINES ARE SIMILAR TO COCAINE, BUT LAST LONGER. YOU AREN’T GOING TO TELL ME THAT COCAINE IS A PERFORMANCE ENHANCER, ARE YOU? CASE CLOSED!!

      • raysfan1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        1) Reread the ist article, and you will see that, yes, cocaine has been used as a performance enhancer too.
        2). You cannot separate the dangers of a particular drug from their use, which is the reason I mentioned that. Minimizing the motivation for use necessarily also means minimizing the dangers of use.
        3) just as I never equated amphetamines with steroids, or any other drug, I also did not talk about the efficacy of them as a PED. The reason is because that is not the point. Your point was that athletes just used them to help them get on the field, akin to having some extra coffee. I have demonstrated otherwise. Again, I was talking about motivation for use, not the efficacy of the drug.
        4) if you do not see “play through the whole game and not get tired”–something that would not have happened naturally–as performance enhancement in and of itself, then we aren’t even speaking the same language, Sir.

        In the end, think any damn thing you like. I’m done here.

      • hateonlyhatred - Apr 9, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        “Again, I was talking about motivation for use, not the efficacy of the drug.”

        Thanks for making my point Raysfan1. Taking a PED is all about the power or capacity to produce a desired effect; effectiveness. That’s the point. You are calling amphetamines a PED when they don’t do anything that a PED is supposed to do. Believe me, the stuff Bonds was taking produced the desired effect and then some.

        I do not see “playing the whole game without getting tired” as a performance enhancer. That is performance enabling. He might have been lost out there on the field due to the mental fatigue amphetamines cause. His play was probably worse due to is feelings of false euphoria. That’s not enhancing performance. Truck drivers used to think that amphetamines helped them in their job as well, but we all know that use of them caused problems on the road. There is no performance enhancing qualities in amphetamines.

        You are going to take a 1960 article that says cocaine is a performance enhancer and use that as proof. You know that cocaine is not a PED. It’s hard to take anything you say seriously if you are pointing in that direction.

        All of you Barry Bonds apologists need to wake up from your dream of ever getting anyone with half a brain to take his career seriously. He cheated with an advanced steroid to put up video game numbers and he will forever pay the price. No hall of fame for him!! Also, trying to minimize those who accomplished greatness by saying amphetamines are a PED, really just trying to lump them in the same class as Bonds and his cohorts, are really grasping for straws. Sorry, nobody is buying it so it’s best to just give it up rather than continue to look foolish.

        I’m not without half a heart here though. I truly feel for those of you who watched Bonds and felt you were watching greatness instead of a big fraud. It’s sad that your baseball idols don’t have the same legitimacy as those of generations who preceded them. Sorry, Santa Claus isn’t real either. Get over it.


      • raysfan1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        Okay, I think I see where our issue is–we are making entirely different points. For me, intent of the drug user is as important as the effect of the drug used, which is why I took exception in the first place–especially when the hazards of use outweigh the potential benefit to performance. You, on the other hand appear to be trying to draw the line based on efficacy as to whether something should be called a performance enhancer or not.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Last thing, just noticed your last paragraph–
        I already said I don’t like Barry Bonds either, so I don’t know what “baseball idols” you think I have. I’ll date myself by letting you know my boyhood hero was Johnny Bench.

        We got off on the wrong foot because I did not realize you were speaking from the standpoint of PED efficacy whereas I was speaking about the purpose of the drug use, and added the health risks involved. With that realization, I’ve really no argument with you.

  9. crisisofinfinitephils - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    Craig gets all moist for the bad boys doesn’t he?

  10. sabatimus - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Hank Aaron is The Home Run King.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 8, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Bonds is the current all-time leader. Henry is the King.

      • shyts7 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Great way of putting it.

  11. shyts7 - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    SHOCKING. I had pegged this a Craig article and I was right. All you need to know is ask the average fan what Hank Aaron’s homerun total is. Most will come up with 755. Ask them the same about Bonds and most can’t tell you his total. Aaron is the homerun king and Maris is the single season homerun king (technically Ruth if you want to consider him because of Maris having more games).

    The only way Bonds hit as many as he did was with a little chemical help. Had he not taken the roids, he doesn’t pass Aaron or Maris. Aaron was consistent. Ruth was dominate. Bonds was chemically enhanced. Bonds was great and a HOF but no way does he pass Aaron or Ruth (and probably not Mays for that matter) without roids.

    • J.T. Dutch - Apr 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM

      All you need to know is ask the average fan what Hank Aaron’s homerun total is. Most will come up with 755. Ask them the same about Bonds and most can’t tell you his total.

      … If someone doesn’t know Bonds’ HR total, that’s on the person who doesn’t know, not on Bonds.

      The fact of the matter is that Barry Bonds is the HR King, both for a single season and for a career. And I can’t deny that I love how angry that makes ignorant baseball fans feel.

      • shyts7 - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:43 PM

        And I love how ignorant people don’t get the meaning of what has been said. I guess I’ll have to spell it out. The average fan can’t tell you Bonds’ homerun number because the average fan know he cheated to get that number. Aaron didn’t have to cheat. Aaron didn’t have to use enhancements to turn a long fly ball out into a homerun. Bonds didn’t have to use tours to be a great play. He already was. If Pete Rose had paid off every pitcher to throw him fastballs down the middle to get the hits record, you would say that, that cheapens the record. Bonds cheated to get the record therefore that record will hold little water with true fans of the game. He may have the number but in no way does he have the title with most fans.

  12. 461deep - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Congratulations Hank on this great anniversary. Bonds has 7 more lifetime HRS so the record is his.
    PED’s Speed probably helped both. Ruth pitched for his first 5 years hitting only 49 HRs during those years. As a OF he hit 665 in 17 years averaging 39.11 per year. He only had 8399 ABs just under 4K less than Aaron and over 1K less than Bonds. Even at 1 HR per 20 AB or 1000 AB Babe would have 50 more or 764 homers. Ruth may have been helped by beer, hot dogs sex & cigars.
    Lot of ifs positive or negative ands & buts of course go into lifetime records like what if Babe had to hit against Satchel, Hank did not get to hit at the launching pad, Bonds stayed skinny, Williams no service in a smaller right field. Mays did not having to hit against the wind at Candlestick, Mick 20 healthy years at Ebbets Field…. I hit Power Ball.

  13. joerevs300 - Apr 8, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    “Here: Some people cheat. Sometimes, they get caught, and there are consequences to that.”

    Except that’s not true. Bonds made millions off of using PED’s. He has THE RECOGNIZED total HR record by the MLB record books.

    So what consequences, exactly, did he suffer?

    Being called a cheater? Yeah, like THAT does not exist in all of the 4 professional sports, right?
    Being called a liar? Yeah, those are called head coaches who say they are committed to a team and slink out in the middle of the night.

    He didn’t suffer a lick. He’s a multi-millionaire who ESPN or NBC would hire in a heartbeat to do baseball, period.

    The only people that suffered are baseball fans who long for a more innocent time and place in the sport which will never, ever come again in this new age.

  14. disgracedfury - Apr 8, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Don’t blame steroids for this blame MLB,Owners,MLBPA and Bud Selig for encouraging players after 1995 to take PED’s and make baseball exciting again and MLB rich.

    Bud Selig created PED users and should have his legacy as tainted as A=Rod.

    • fpstratton - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      Amen to that. Baseball didn’t care about the dignity of the game when it looked the other way as attendance and interest soared because guys were hitting 60 or 70 homers a season. Baseball could have put a stop to this steroid nonsense when it was in its infancy if it really care about the integrity of the sport. Once the genie was out of the bottle, there was no going back.

  15. fpstratton - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    I don’t like Barry Bonds. I had a not-so-great encounter with him at a West Hollywood record store a few years ago in which I wished him a Merry Christmas and got just an annoyed glance and a 3-word mumble in return….not that he owed me anything. He comes across as arrogant and rude, and he obviously used performance-enhancing drugs. That having been said, he does have more home runs than Hank Aaron, but the reason people call Aaron the home run king is not only because of his achievement of 40 years ago, but because he had to overcome so much hatred and resentment all because he happened to be a black man chasing a record held by the beloved Babe Ruth. There was much more to the story than merely breaking a home run record. Thus, I will continue to call Aaron the Home Run king, and I really don’t give a rip if some sportswriter think it inappropriate.

    • shyts7 - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      It’s not a real sports writer. Its Craig. He is essentially Hardball Talk’s Chris Chase (former terrible Yahoo sports writer)

  16. jdillydawg - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    How about we just celebrate and if we want to call him King, you’ll leave us alone for it. Aaron was awesome, and whether or not he’s King (besides, King Felix is already King and there can only be one) the fact that you say “Don’t call him King” in the title kinda puts a downer on the whole celebration thing.

    Let’s celebrate for celebration’s sake. Worry about proper titles at some other time.

  17. tycobbhistorian - Apr 9, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    TY COBB Once Pinch Hit a Grand Slam for Homerun King, Henry L. “Hank” Aaron

    A Ty Cobb Historian Presentation.

    In the beginning, God created all men equal! That was, until He invented baseball. The game consists of players of all skill levels and many are able to achieve more with less. Historically, some even had greater potential and were never able to apply it to effective use.

    Major League Baseball has never enjoyed, nor witnessed, a more talented and enthusiastic player than Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the very first player ever inducted into the National Hall of Fame and Museum on June 12, 1939.

    Cobb received 222 out of 226 possible votes collecting more endorsements than Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. He led with the highest percentage of votes until Tom Seaver bested that in 1992 with a percentage of 98.84, a record that Cobb held for 56 years.

    This was one of his biggest rewards for his 24-year laboring in the big leagues. He also reveled in ending his career with the highest lifetime batting average of .367. He also won 12 American League batting titles from 1907-1919, winning the first nine consecutively.

    However, the greatest and most cherished feats came off the baseball field – his philanthropic contributions to his home state of Georgia.

    In January 22, 1950, Cobb stood on a platform and dedicated the Cobb Memorial Hospital in loving memory of his parents, Herschel and Amanda Cobb. The Cobb Memorial Hospital has celebrated its sixtieth year by building a 52 million dollar medical center. It has been planned to attract some of the finest medical specialist in the south.

    In November 1953, Cobb established the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation to scholarships to residents of Georgia who wish to continue their collegiate education. The T.C.E.F. is also nearing its sixtieth anniversary.

    Despite the positive impact of these two great deeds, it still does not completely reveal Cobb’s philanthropic nature.

    “He was always an easy touch for a dollar or two,” claimed Jimmy Lanier, the Detroit Tigers batboy in 1925-26. “And I remember him always giving money to the little girls that rang the Salvation Army bells at Christmas time.

    Cobb has always, and often quietly, sent donations to former big league ball players who did not spend their earnings wisely or just simply fell down on their luck. Cobb was a kind and gentle soul to those whom he knew were honest and upfront with him. Otherwise, he kept a tight grip on his earnings.

    His first investment was a real estate purchase down in Jeff Davis County, Georgia in the winter on 1907. Shortly after Cobb and the Tigers put up a gallant effort to best the Cubs in the fall series, he took half of his World Series money and purchased a hundred acre farm between Hazlehurst and Lumber City. It was the old Gruber farm and he kept the property for 16 years before divesting it into another real estate transaction consisting of a home in Hazlehurst and two other parcels of land.

    As his annual salary grew, along with his ever-increasing endorsements, Ty began to become progressive with his business investments. He became a stockholder in the Vickery Bank, now Northeast Georgia Bank, in Lavonia, Georgia and served on the Board of Directors as early as 1909.

    He was one of three principal owners in the Thomson City Bank of Thomson, Georgia in 1915.

    Later that same year, Cobb and 15 other investors, primarily from baseball, established an organization known as the “Dover Hall Club.” The organization was incorporated in the state of Delaware and Captain Tillinghast Huston.

    Cobb became wealthy fast, earning the reputation as Major League Baseball’s first millionaire by the age of 35.

    Cobb finished his career in 1928, spending 22 years with the Detroit Tigers and his last 2 years with Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics.

    Here are some of the great marks that he left of the grand old national sport; 4,191 hits, 3,033 games, 892 stolen bases, 12 Amerian League batting titles, 2,245 runs scored, batted .400 in three different seasons, 11,429 at bats, 297 triples, 724 doubles and a lifetime batting average of .367.

    But however, the most unique element of Cobb’s personification was the impact he had on the game while he wasn’t playing on the field.

    One of the most intriguing deeds he accomplished was helping to get Henry Aaron promoted to a Major League team, the Milwaukee Braves.

    The Georgia Peach, as he was widely known, orchestrated a movement to get Henry “Hank” Aaron promoted to the Major Leagues in the spring of 1954.

    Let me be clear, Hank Aaron would have eventually made it to the big leagues by the merit of his great play, however, having the great Ty Cobb going to bat for you was definitely a sure hit.

    Aaron, who had already carved out a home for himself in Jacksonville, was the South Atlantics Leagues’ MVP the previous season, leading the league with a .362 batting average including 22 homeruns and 125 RBIs.

    Cobb and Braves’ manager, Charlie Grimm, had a friendship spanning more than three decades and dating back to 1916 when the St Louis native signed with the Athletics in the American League.

    Cobb and Grimm met before the 1954 spring training season in Philadelphia where Cobb spent most of the time praising Aaron’s work.

    “What I like about Aaron is his hitting,” said the 63 year old with his high pitched drawl, “and his mannerism at the plate has really impressed me.”

    Cobb had watched Aaron play at Augusta and also when the he played winter ball with the Puerto Rico League and batted .322.

    It was with his meeting with Cobb when Grimm acknowledged that he would probably try the youngster out during the spring exhibition games.

    When Braves’ outfielder, Bobby Thompson, fractured his ankle sliding into second base on March 13th, Grimm found the perfect opportunity to get Aaron in the game.

    Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron were both honored by the South Atlantic League in 1994 by their dual induction into the SAL Hall of Fame.

    Cobb was the very first player ever elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 and Hank Aaron was selected in 1982.

    The record Hammerin’ Hank left on the game 40 years ago today will always be remembered as one of the most significant turning points in baseball history.

    It will be remembered as long as we baseball fans revel in the long ball. It was something the Homerun King perfected and he changed the history of baseball with his 755 souvenirs that left the fans in the stands.

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