The man who shattered Babe Ruth's lifetime home run record, Henry "Hammering Hank" Aaron left his indelible mark on professional baseball and the world. But the world also left its mark on him.
I Had a Hammer is much more than the intimate autobiography of one of the greatest names in pro sports—it is a fascinating social history of twentieth-century America. With courage and candor, Aaron recalls his struggles and triumphs in an atmosphere of virulent racism. He relives the breathtaking moment when, in the heat of hatred and controversy, he hit his 715th home run to break Ruth's cherished record—an accomplishment for which Aaron received more than 900,000 letters, many of them vicious and racially charged. And his story continues through the remainder of his milestone-setting, barrier-smashing career as a player and, later, Atlanta Braves executive—offering an eye-opening and unforgettable portrait of an incomparable athlete, his sport, his epoch, and his world.
Fans will be eager to read all-time home-run king Aaron's autobiography, written with freelancer Wheeler, especially as he was one of the last major league players with his roots in the Negro League. At 18 the Mobile, Ala.-born athlete was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns and within months was on his way to organized white baseball. He helped to integrate the South Atlantic (Sally) League--a horrible experience--and within two years was playing for the Braves in Milwaukee, Wis., a city that loved him; after 13 years the team moved to Atlanta, where he was shown little affection. Each chapter begins with a scene-setting introduction by Wheeler, then Aaron takes over, aided by reminiscences of boyhood friends, former teammates and baseball executives. The book is as much a social document as a memoir, for Aaron is militant on race relations and views himself as a major successor to Jackie Robinson in the fight to end sports racism, which he finds widely practiced still. Photos not seen by PW. 100,000 first printing; $125,000 ad/promo; author tour.