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Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Braves’

You know how some people go to church only on Christmas and Easter (with an occasional wedding or funeral now and then)? That’s how I am with Major League Baseball these days—Spring Training and World Series (with an occasional All Star or playoff game now and then). And since tonight kicks off the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves playing Game 1 of 2021 World Series, I thought I’d sneak in one more baseball related post from Cooperstown, New York.

When I went to Cooperstown in June to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame, one of the fringe benefits was celebrating my birthday at The Otesage Resort Hotel. The historic resort opened on the southern end of Otsego Lake in 1909 and is a short stroll from the Hall of Fame. Since my wife isn’t into baseaball she enjoyed just sitting on the hotel’s expansive back deck while reading a book overlooking the lake.

Since I had dreamed of seeing Cooperstown since I was a kid playing Little League baseball, the lakefront hotel—and the beautiful sunrise and sunset—helped make it an extra special visit.

Sunrise
Sunset
The Otesage Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York
What started in downtown Atlanta makes its way to downtown Cooperstown for a picture of Americana

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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As a fitting follow-up to my last post about Jackie Robinson, I learned that baseball great Hank Aaron died today. My first thought was being a 12-year-old baseball fanatic when Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. I wrote to Aaron via the Atlanta Braves organization requesting an autograph— and I got one! (Pictured below with the Sports Illustrated I kept after he surpassed Ruth.)

In the years that followed, I learned that life didn’t always go so smoothly. (Request/ request granted.) But getting that autograph in the mail was one fine day in the sun from my youth. And as I got older and read about the racism (and death threats) that Aaron endured while chasing Ruth, the more my admiration for him grew. To play professional sports at any level for any amount of time is a giant feat. But to play Major League baseball for 23 years as Aaron did, at the level he did—with the extra pressure that he faced—is phenomenal. Thanks for the memories Hammerin’ Hank.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“Look, I don’t have the vision or the voice of Martin Luther King or James Baldwin or Jesse Jackson or even of Jackie Robinson. I’m just an old ballplayer. But I learned a lot as a ballplayer. Among other things, I learned that if you manage to make a name for yourself—and if you’re black, believe me, it has to be a big name—then people will start listening to what you have to say. That was why it was so important for me to break the home run record.”
—Hank Aaron
I Had a Hammer

Tomorrow I’ll return with more Coronavirus Writers’ Room posts, but today I thought I’d share something special. Like a lot of people on lockdown during this pandemic, I’ve been spending some time sorting through my stuff. Call it a forced spring cleaning.

This was my recent find—a signed photo of baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. I was 13 years old when he broke Babe Ruth’s all time home run record.  Even though I was a Cincinnati Reds fan, I was a baseball fan that loved the whole build up to Aaron’s historic achievement.

At some point, I remember writing a letter to Aaron via the Braves organization. And some time later the signed photo below came in the mail. I was young and naive enough to think that life was always going to go as smooth.

This was also back in the day long before autographs were a big business and forgery was the issue it is today. Aaron has a distinct signature and it lines up well with others I’ve seen online, so I’m going to believe it’s 100% authentic. Thank you Mr. Aaron and the Atlanta Braves for the cherished memento.

I’ve kept it in safe keeping in a filed sleeve all these years, but in the spirit of Marie Kondo’s concept of sparking joy—I’m now going to get it framed and have it on display.

It was many decades after Aaron retired when I fully understood his accomplishment. He not only became the home run king, but he did it under immense pressure of hate mail and death threats. One letter was a blunt as “Retire or die.” He did eventually retire after a great career playing baseball and today is a senior vice president with the Braves.

Hank_1436

This is what the home run looked like on April 8, 1974.

If you’re unfamiliar with Aaron, read his autobiography I had a Hammer, and check out the video below.

P.S. And since the start of  MLB has been delayed with the coronavirus, Ken Burns has made his Baseball series (produced with Lynn Novick) available on PBS for free.  

Scott W. Smith 

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