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Against All Odds: Black Athletes in the 1970s: Hank Aaron and the Morgan State Bears

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The 1960's
    1. Baltimore and different races and cultures
  3. The sport of lacrosse
    1. The Morgan State Bears
  4. Babe Ruth as a mythical figure in American history
  5. Division II status for the Morgan State Bears
  6. The best player on the team
  7. Conclusion: Breaking the color barrier

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.[20] 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. [...]

[...] After these were released on his disappointment, more letters arrived telling him to stop being ungrateful nigger.? Aaron once told Sports Illustrated that it was interesting to note after he beat Babe Ruth's record that people immediately turned to Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak as the most unbreakable in sports.[28] While Jackie Robinson was the first man to break the color barrier, Hank Aaron brought the black player to unprecedented heights. After his feat, the doors opened in the front office as executives and on in the field as managers. [...]

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