“They’re trying to get all these people from all over the world to come here to play Major League Baseball. (Those who run MLB) don’t give a hoot, not one hill of beans, about (an African American) person. Not one thing whether we play baseball or not,” Aaron told me during a 2007 interview, revealed for the first time in the book. “This game of baseball, and you have to look at it, that this game was so, it was just folding until Jackie Robinson came in and lifted it to another playing level and trying to make it exciting for the fans—both Black and White.”
Aaron then sighed heavily and slowly raised his voice, “Terence, it is amazing how this game has changed for the benefit of how they want [the public] to perceive it to be, you know? Yeah, just keep your eye on it. Watch what I tell you about this game. I guarantee you [what I say is true].”
It was true. By the 2021 baseball season, which began three months after Hank’s death, the game’s biggest star was Shohei Ohtani, a pitching and hitting sensation from Iwate Prefecture, Japan, located 6,700 miles, a Pacific Ocean, and several times zones west of Mobile, Alabama, the old stomping grounds of an African American who became the greatest Major League player ever. Now baseball has virtually no African Americans.
Courtesy of Hank’s personal experiences as a player and as an executive in Major League Baseball since the early 1950s, combined with my 1982 research for the San Francisco Examiner on the state of Blacks in the game to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, Hank had splendid reasons to believe the game he cherished wasn’t loving African Americans as much as it claimed. This vanishing act involving African American players in baseball happened too fast, too dramatically, and too blatantly after the 1970s for The Myth to be more than a myth by the 21st century.
About The Myth: To hear many folks tell it, especially those involved with Major League Baseball, African Americans rolled out of bed one day and just didn’t like the sport anymore.
For more, check out The Real Hank Aaron by Terence Moore: “A heartfelt portrait of Hank Aaron, featuring nearly 40 years of stories plus never-before-told insights from the home run king.”