INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In 1952, a train ride north from Alabama changed baseball forever.
A salary of $ 200 a month brought Hank Aaron, the man who eventually broke Babe Ruth’s legendary homerun record, to the Indianapolis Negro League clowns.
“Our president, Bob Kendrick, showed him around. He said to Bob, “You know, I might have had a ham sandwich, a change of clothes, and a few dollars in my pocket that day to pursue this dream of playing baseball,” said Ray Doswell of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
Today Doswell’s razor-sharp storytelling shows Aaron’s instant fame with the clowns and wows the crowd on the team’s barnstorming tours.
“He was an infielder with crossed hands, strong wrists, and strong arms, and they found a way to get him to hit more orthodox,” Doswell said. “It was clear that he was a young hit star who brought attention and people to what was happening to the team.”
After only three months in Indianapolis, the Braves later acquired Aaron for $ 10,000 in 1952. He made his Major League debut in 1954 in Milwaukee, where he quickly asserted himself on the field.
On the diamond, a fierce competitor watched the unfair and discriminatory fights that Aaron was facing away from the diamond.
“I’m sure he was struggling to stay in hotels at the time,” said Carl Erskine, a native of Anderson, Indiana, and a Jackie Robinson teammate. “He faced the same outrage as Jackie. Henry (Aaron) was silent, he wasn’t frisky, he never showed much anger on the plate. “
Erskine can still imagine Aaron kicking the racket for his first battle on June 16, 1954 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
“He pushed himself up a bit, I could see that right away. On the bench, Ed Robuck once said when Aaron hit him, “He hits like he’s taking a shower.” He was so relaxed on the plate. He had those quick hands. “
This season we will remember Hank Aaron and his courageous journey through our city in every major league.
“It’s indescribable – someone of his status in this sport and in this game,” said Cheyne Reiter, Indianapolis Indians communications director. “From a sporting point of view, we are the oldest franchise company here in town. To think that he played for the clowns and then continued his career is pretty incredible. “
“Fortunately, there was a league that probably shouldn’t be if the world was fair,” added Doswell. “But it was there, thank God, and as a result we get great athletes and great men like Henry Aaron.”