“To be honest with you, I was very sick and disgusted with the whole situation. For someone in the situation of Mr. Rocker to make those statements is ridiculous. I have no place in my heart for that.”
These are the words of baseball legend Hank Aaron, from 1999. It was from an article published on Christmas Eve of that year, just before the Y2K bug was going to take a bite out of our civilization.
Well, after reading what Aaron recently had to say about Republicans and those who disagree with President Obama, allow me to take the home run king’s words and put them in my own mouth:
“To be honest with you, I’m very sick and disgusted with the whole situation. For someone in the situation of Mr. Aaron to make those statements is ridiculous. I have no place in my heart for that.”
What was it Aaron said? That’s right, he compared Republicans that oppose President Barack Obama’s ruinous policies and agenda to Ku Klux Klan members. He blamed Republicans for hindering Obama’s job performance, telling USA Today:
“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.
“The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
I’ve got a few neckties. I even have a few starched shirts. Like Trayvon Martin, I even have a hoodie or two.
But for Hank Aaron to make these comments, excusing Obama from any criticism because of the pigment in his skin, is yet another reminder that the president’s black supporters consider him infallible and off limits from criticism.
In the same breath, let’s look at this situation in a contrary perspective. So, based on Aaron’s assumptions regarding individuals’ opinions of Obama, I’m to assume that any member of the black race who disagreed with a George W. policy, a Bill Clinton program or the performance of Ronald Reagan should be likened to a Black Panther. Is that what I’m to understand? Don’t be ridiculous. We all know nothing like that would ever happen. Only a pale face can be racist.
Just as Attorney General Eric Holder expressed disbelief that anyone would criticize him or treat him with anything outside of lionized deference, at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) conference last week (playing racial woe-is-me to the almost entirely black crowd), Hank Aaron decides to denigrate any conservative/Republican for daring to believe Obama’s agenda is disastrous.
His comments were deplorable and unbefitting of baseball’s all-time home run king, but this isn’t the first time Aaron has made comments that should be questioned.
Back in 2010, Aaron bemoaned the lack of black players in Major League Baseball (MLB), as if some invisible force was keeping young black kids from playing the game. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported he was encouraged that one of the Atlanta Braves’ new stars – the talented Jason Heyward – could be the new face of the franchise. Here’s what he said about seeing Heyward’s thankfully black face in the locker room at spring training:
“It’s encouraging, but I’d like to see more,” Aaron said. “I think we’re on the right track, but it dampens my spirit when I come up to spring training and I look at the kids – I’m not talking about tomorrow, I’m talking about right now – and don’t see any black kids. …
“And this is a scene that you see all over the Major Leagues. This is not only with the Braves. You can go to any ball club and you see the same thing. … Something needs to be done about it.”
There is no simple solution, he conceded.
“I’m trying to figure out what is being done,” he said. “I don’t know how [to fix it], really. The game of baseball is very expensive, that’s number 1. It takes money for a kid to develop. Look at ballparks in Fulton County versus Buckhead. You’re talking about a field [in Buckhead] that is manicured; coaches are there, equipment is there. You go to Southwest Atlanta. … The parents just don’t have the money to pay for it.”
For those unfamiliar with Atlanta, Buckhead is one of the nicer parts of the city; Southwest Atlanta is one of the “scariest” parts of the city. Aaron’s comments are also quite racial, with Buckhead being overwhelmingly white and Southwest Atlanta being almost entirely black.
One thing Aaron fails to mention or even care to notice as it would make his theory of black players growing up in poor neighborhoods without proper facilities look like Swiss cheese is the overwhelming number of Latin players in the Major Leagues. I’ve lived in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The facilities young players have in those areas make the ones on the south side of Atlanta look like Yankee Stadium. Yet MLB is full of extremely talented Latin players. I’ve played with Latin guys who have told me they didn’t own a pair of shoes until the age of 12 (let that sink in for a minute), yet over 40 percent of Major League players are from Latin countries. Do you know why? Because they can play. Period. For Hank Aaron to insinuate that skin color has anything to do with a team trying to put together a pennant-winning ball club is the most ludicrous thing I’ve possibly ever heard.
Aaron’s comments on the lack of black ballplayers in big league baseball shows his thinking on individual players is anything but color blind. His comments painting all Republicans critical of Obama’s insane policies show he has no use in judging by character, but merely finding a proverbial Klan robe in every white conservatives closet.
Look, it’s not easy to make it to the show and become a Major League Baseball player. It takes hard work, discipline and a small bit of luck to stave off an injury that could derail your development as either a collegiate athlete or minor leaguer.
You never read or hear of a retired white running back or corner back from the National Football League go to his former team’s training camp and, after seeing only black faces, say, “It’s discouraging, but I’d like to see more players who look like me.”
Or a former white NBA player making an observation about the lack of white players currently in the NBA, a thought that leaves him saying (to paraphrase Aaron), “something needs to be done about it.”
But Aaron got a pass then, and he continues to get a pass for his comments on white conservatives being closet Klan members.
As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said in his famous speech, “… they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” – one of the most powerful quotes spoken in the history of this great country. At times I feel that the more America seems to be changing for the better I realize the more it’s actually the same.
Media wishing to interview John Rocker, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.