America has always fallen in love with their athletes. Little kids look up to them as heroes, trying to emulate them in every way they can. Athletes provide people, especially those with little or no material means, with the hope that they can one day become great. During the racially charged 1970s, one prominent black athlete stood far above the rest, Hank Aaron. Aaron captivated America with his chase for the storied home run record held by Babe Ruth. During his quest for home run 715, Aaron was bombarded with death threats and faced racist remarks everywhere he went, even in his home city of Atlanta.
[...] Wit the help of Miles, the team slowly accepted Silverman as not only their coach, but also as their friend. While the Morgan State Bears were just beginning their first practices, Hank Aaron was still the leading player for the Braves. Playing in relative obscurity allowed Aaron to escape much of the pressure and racism that other players such as Willy Mays faced. Racism in baseball was much lower in the 1970s than it had been when Jackie Robinson first broke into the game. [...]
[...] The next night at the welcome dinner, Miles was greeted cordially by locals and officials, but left out of conversations many were having. He had never experienced this type of racism before and this experienced led him to play well in the game the following day. Beginning in the spring of 1973 Hank Aaron was inundated with threats of all kinds. It was possible that he could pass the record that season and many wanted to make sure it did not happen. Aaron was used to insults about his race and family, but these were far beyond anything he had encountered. [...]
[...] While Aaron did experience constant racism, it was no more than any black player of the time, and was not until people realized he had a chance to break Babe Ruth's record did people really begin to notice. The 1960s was a time of change in America, especially after the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Blacks thought they would finally enjoy the freedoms and privileges that the whites have had, but this was not to be the case. Their economic situation did not allow for much social movement, as they had expected, and by the 1970s the situation turned violent, a sharp contrast to the peaceful resolutions advocated by Martin Luther King Jr. [...]
[...] They ended up becoming friends with their fellow black and said that if any of their new friends came to the game the next day, the team guaranteed victory. As they walked onto the field, the players gazed into the stand and saw a group of blacks in the upper deck. One player named Puddie turned to his team after seeing the fans and said, guys, we gotta win because them ‘town blacks' have shown up. We can't let down.” The game started brilliantly for the Bears, who scored the first few goals that day. [...]
[...] The umpire stopped the game and the Braves brought a microphone onto the field for Hank to speak. He said only one sentence, just thank God it's all over.” The home run was the crowing achievement for Hank in the face of racist remarks and threats. For the Morgan State Bears the pinnacle of their success occurred in the beginning of the 1975 season. During the winter, Washington and Lee finally decided to play the Bears, wanting to prove that the black school really did not know how to play the game. [...]
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