People know the name of Rosa Parks. But what is less celebrated is a 15 year old woman, eventually a nurse, who refused to give her seat to a white woman and was dragged off the bus where Claudette had paid her fare.
The year was 1955. That’s the year that Claudette Colvin was abused by people in Montgomery, Alabama. Chronologically, Rosa Park’s fame came later. It’s also the same year that Henry Aaron, born in Mobile, started playing baseball for the Braves at the pro level. I realize that it’s not necessarily a good segue and makes no sense, at all, how hard it was for people who weren’t white to just get a fair chance, and how many years have we been set back because bigots continue to be angry about the yellows, the browns, the blacks, and how people might actually be good at what they do.
Henry Aaron played about 23 years in the major leagues, and hit a shit ton. True iron, in a pitcher’s league, home runs, averaging about 24 each year, but his big numbers: all time leader in total bases, and RBIs, I know people don’t like that stat as much as they used to, but like all statistics, pause and consider what it really means. Think about this, he started in 1951 in the minors, and 1955 in the majors, and a lot of white people hated him. Truly hated him, casting aspersions on him, especially when he started to eclipse Ruth. For decades, he couldn’t stay in the same hotels as his team mates. He couldn’t eat in the same restaurants.
White people, we were a pathetic species. I hope we can be better. Or at least not suck as much. I know some of you are going to think I’m an apologist. I can’t wait for the day that I can see people play on a level field, especially the thought of Curt Flood not losing his career to a brigand of evil men and see him grab a ball when it’s running away from him, and Josh Gibson trying to turn a fastball from Big Train, and Satchel Paige bringing it high and tight to the Babe.
Henry Aaron had the best swing I’ve ever seen. I liked Don Mattingly’s way with the bat as well. Along came Ken Griffey Junior, who was just as good, if not better, than all that came before. The Hammer passed away, and it’s hard to explain to anyone who isn’t a baseball fan why he’s so important. He was kind, considerate, and for a 5’10” 180lb guy, probably the best all-around ball player you will ever meet.