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Amazing Aaron and Beastly Bonds

I remember jumping up and down as high as I could in the living room of my parents' home when I was a junior at Thomson High School.

The date was April 4, 1974. Not just an ordinary day, I assure you.

That was a special time for me, as my all-time sports hero Hank Aaron, eclipsed Babe Ruth's all-time homerun record by hitting his 715th homer off Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Al Downing.

Aaron's feat was cause for celebration and my parents knew it, because they knew how much I have always admired, respected and loved my hero. It goes back to the days when I was a young boy, living at the time in North Augusta, S.C. At that time, I saved old Coca-Cola stoppers, which spotlighted Atlanta Braves' players.

I collected so many of them that I actually carried them around in a paper sack. They were my little treasures. I can even remember keeping them underneath my bed - keeping them hidden from my brother and sisters.

Out of all of them, it was Aaron who was my favorite.

And after watching hundreds of Major League Baseball games through the years, I can truthfully say that Aaron ranks as the best-all-around player I've ever seen.

Aaron wasn't a selfish player and had he been, no doubt he would have become the homerun king much sooner in his career. Instead, Aaron, who now is the senior vice-president for player development with the Atlanta Braves organization, did the kinds of things that a player does to help his team win games.

I appreciated and admired the way Aaron played the game.

Now that Barry Bonds is real close to catching and surpassing Aaron for the all-time homerun title, he will never be the kind of player Aaron was in the game.

The differences between the two could easily be wrapped up in a single word - character.

Aaron has plenty of character and Bonds is lacking, considerably.

When you examine both men closely, it's easy to see that one is a gentleman and the other is all about self. The gentleman is Aaron in this case. You can figure for yourself where I think Bonds falls.

Bonds is so self-centered, it isn't funny. In fact, more so, it's a disgrace to baseball and those of us who love the game so much.

I read a newspaper story the other day where Bonds is upset because Aaron has not called him. What is that about? I mean, what does Bonds expect to gain from a conversation with Aaron?

Sure, he's apt to break Aaron's record, but so what? At least Aaron never used drugs for his feat. Bonds can't say such.

Web posted on Thursday, July 19, 2007

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