ATLANTA — Forty years after he received waves of racist hate mail as he chased Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs, Hank Aaron has been reliving the experience all over again the past week.
A large number of vile letters, emails and phone calls have "poured into the Atlanta Braves offices," USA Today reported. They were in reaction to comments Aaron, 80, made to the paper concerning the old hate mail that he stores in the attic of his Atlanta home.
Explaining why he keeps the decades-old letters, Aaron in an April 8 story said they served as a constant reminder of the blight of racism. As Aaron veered into politics, he spoke of the stalemate between President Barack Obama and Republicans. He also spoke of the different form — a more white-collar form — that racism took today.
As the story was constructed, some interpreted his comments as likening Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan. That interpretation spread through conservative media, triggering an outpouring of correspondence to the Braves, some of it littered with racial epithets.
In a story Tuesday on those letters, writer Bob Nightengale included a clarification of his original interview with Aaron:
"Never in our 50-minute conversation did Aaron suggest anyone critical of President Obama is racist. Never did he compare the Republican Party to the Ku Klux Klan. Simply, Aaron stated that we are fooling ourselves if we don't believe racism exists in our country. It's simply camouflaged now. And, yes, he feels sorry for his good friend, President Obama, and the frustrations he endures."
TOP prospect gets call: Prized outfield prospect George Springer joined the Astros from Triple-A Oklahoma City and made his major-league debut. Springer, 24, was batting .353 with a .459 on-base percentage and a .647 slugging percentage at Oklahoma City.
CARDINALS: RHP Joe Kelly left his start in the sixth when he strained his left hamstring while trying to beat out a grounder.
METS: The contract of veteran RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka was selected from Triple-A Las Vegas.
NATIONALS: OF Bryce Harper was scratched with tightness in his left quad.
PIRATES: LF Jose Tabata was helped off the field after he slammed into the wall while making a catch in the fifth inning. The team said he appeared to have a mild concussion.
RANGERS: LHP Joe Saunders, out since getting hit by a line drive April 4 at Tampa Bay, cut short a bullpen session because of pain in his left ankle.
YANKEES: The team honored the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, with a plaque in Monument Park as part of their Jackie Robinson Day festivities.