I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story

I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story


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I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story by Hank Aaron, Lonnie Wheeler

The man who shattered Babe Ruth's lifetime home run record, Henry "Hammering Hank" Aaron left his indelible mark on professional baseball and the world. But the world also left its mark on him.

I Had a Hammer is much more than the intimate autobiography of one of the greatest names in pro sports—it is a fascinating social history of twentieth-century America. With courage and candor, Aaron recalls his struggles and triumphs in an atmosphere of virulent racism. He relives the breathtaking moment when, in the heat of hatred and controversy, he hit his 715th home run to break Ruth's cherished record—an accomplishment for which Aaron received more than 900,000 letters, many of them vicious and racially charged. And his story continues through the remainder of his milestone-setting, barrier-smashing career as a player and, later, Atlanta Braves executive—offering an eye-opening and unforgettable portrait of an incomparable athlete, his sport, his epoch, and his world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061373602
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/12/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 505,065
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)

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I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. I'm reading it 4 a National History Day project. It has all the info on his life that he doesnt talk about much which is great. You never really know what a ball player like him went through during all the racial issuses but this is a rare book. I like how he included many details. It's so amazing that he can remember all that stuff. You dont even hav to like baseball 2 like this book, its main idea may seem like its just another book about sports but its way more than tht. The kind of things he went through is just unbelieveable!!!! I hope u choose 2 read this book. You'll hav a new respect 4 basball and a new respect about the players and what they went through (african americans)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many people must go through life only knowing that Hank Aaron is the all-time homerun leader, but not many know the real story. After reading the book it shocks me how much he went through during his chase of the record. The letters he received and the threats he heard on the field might have cracked a weaker man, but not Hank Aaron. He continued to push for the record until he hit number 715. I really enjoyed reading the book and strongly recommend it to anyone, even if they don't like baseball.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started following baseball when we moved to NJ in the late 60's and, serendipitously, the first season that really captured my attention was 1969. We had a color TV (a rarity at that time--it was a big old console job with stereo & turntable built-in. You sometimes had to bang underneath the picture tube with a hammer to fix the vertical hold) and our next door neighbor Joe Koberlein would come over to watch Mets games.) Unquestioningly loyal to our beloved Amazins, my brother and I had little doubt that Tommie Agee and Cleon Jones (both of whom happen to have come from Aaron's hometown of Mobile, AL) were the two best outfielders in baseball, maybe the two best ever. Our Father, who had doggedly remained a Dodger fan despite their move West, would put in a word for Duke Snider. We lived in Yankee country, so Mickey Mantle still had his backers and their were those residual Giants fans who stumped for Willie Mays--who also won allegiance from many black fans on racial solidarity grounds. But I really don't ever remember a Hank Aaron fan. Sure we knew he was good, especially during the NLCS were we reminded of how dangerous he was, but he just wasn't terribly glamorous or personable and he played for a team that noone rooted for, so to our minds he was barely worthy of notice. The, seemingly all of a sudden, we realized the guy was about to catch Babe Ruth. I remember NBC breaking into their regular programming to show his 715th HR live. Then began the arguments over just how good he was; arguments that always seemed to have a whiff of race about them. In the ensuing years this argument has hardly died down and the racial overtones have certainly not faded. In fact, the subtle assertion that the only reason you would deny Aaron primacy is that you are a closet racist has added an additional layer of bitterness to his legacy. All of this combined with Aaron's own demeanor, whether he is aloof or shy or whatever, has always led me to view him somewhat askance. There's that visceral level on which I just can't grant him equality with Ruth, let alone with the more personable Mays. So it came as a great surprise and a pleasure when this book was published, to find in its pages a Hank Aaron who was not only a great baseball player but a compelling hero and human being. Beyond simply providing a complex portrait of a gifted and proud human being, the book serves to provide some context for the pure numbers that Aaron put up in his career and, more importantly, reminds us of the backdrop of persistent racism against which these feats were achieved. We all find things easier to comprehend if they follow an easy narrative form, so when we say that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier it is easy for us to misperceive this as meaning that racism in baseball ended in the late 40's. And Aaron, because he was so good for so long, seems to us a figure of the 60's, or even the 70's. But the book reminds us that Hank Aaron began in the Negro Leagues (with the Indianapolis Clowns), played in minor leagues which had only just lowered the color bar, had to stay in separate hotels and eat at different restaurants on road trips, etc. And still, some thirty years later, as he approached the Babe's HR mark, received virulent hate mail. Aaron's incredible career takes on a patina of real grace when considered against this pervasive and corrosive pattern of racial animus. His accomplishments, monumental in themselves, must be judged as singular when taken in conjunction with the unique challenges he faced. If I were picking my all-time team today, I'd still take Ruth and Mays over Aaron (Aaron vs. Ted Williams is a tougher call.) But if you were trying to judge them all as men, I think this book makes a compelling case that Aaron is one of the really great men in the history of sports and even one of the great men in our nation's history. A lot of people have been yammering about the stupid things that John Rocker said
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He is the 2nd best black player in baseball,1st going to Jackie Robinson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's a legend
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