More Children Need the Fierce Love of a Mom like Hank Aaron’s
As my husband talked last night about “All-Star Week” and the “Home Run Derby,” one person came to my mind. She wasn’t a star pitcher, and she never hit a home run. She was simply a mom. Well, maybe not just any mom — Hank Aaron’s mom to be exact. And Hank Aaron wasn’t just any baseball player.
Hank Aaron was — many have argued — the best baseball player of all time, hitting home run after home run, while rarely striking out and playing until he was 42. Despite his winning personality and athletic prowess, not everyone loved Hank Aaron. As a professional African American athlete, he faced serious racial hatred and discrimination.
Even though there were civil rights advances in the 1960s, as Aaron approached Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974, racial tension in America ran high. The previous season, Aaron’s home run total hit 713, leaving six months for America to ruminate over the fact that the home run record of Babe Ruth, a white man, was likely to be broken by a black man.
As the season began, threats and attacks against Aaron mounted. He remarked, “My kids had to live like they were in prison because of the kidnap threats, and I had to live like a pig in a slaughter camp. I had to duck. I had to go out the back door of the ball parks. I had to have a police escort with me all the time. I was getting threatening letters every single day.”
On opening day in 1974, Aaron tied Ruth’s record. The Braves opted not to play their star for the next two games, bringing him back to the heart of the South, Atlanta, Ga., for the opportunity to claim the title of home run king against the Dodgers.
As anticipation of the game grew, so too, did the threats on Hank’s life — with numerous people promising, if he did hit number 715, he would be shot before crossing home plate.
Hank Aaron’s mother, Estella, was aware of the target on her son’s back. No doubt, she was also aware that as her son approached 715 home runs and hammered the Great Bambino’s record to pieces, more than three times as many patrol men as usual would be stationed around Braves stadium. Additionally, Calvin Wardlaw, an Atlanta police officer hired to accompany Aaron everywhere he went, would be seated close to the field packing a .38 caliber gun just in case one of the countless haters threatening Hammerin’ Hank’s life decided to follow through.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, Dodgers lefty Al Downing pitched a fastball to Aaron, and 385 feet later, Babe Ruth’s record was no more. After Aaron rounded the bases and crossed home plate, his mom ran out with tears in her eyes and embraced him. She hugged him long and hard, and then, she hugged him some more. She seemed to hold on forever — and while onlookers may have believed she was merely overjoyed, Estella’s hug was meant to serve another purpose. If a bullet was meant for her son, it was going to have to go through her first.
No number of patrol men or bodyguards would have been sufficient to convince this mom that she did not need to do everything in her power — including placing her own body in a potential snipers’ path — to protect a grown man, her son.
Not everyone loved Hank Aaron, but his mom sure did.
Forty-nine years later, the threats on most of our children’s lives and livelihoods look different, but our country is still in great need of mothers who love like Mrs. Aaron.
In California, the state has passed laws taking custody of children with unaffirmed gender dysphoria from their parents — replacing a child’s mom and dad with the government. In Maryland, elementary-aged children are being forced to participate in sexualized curriculum without parental consent. In Arkansas, a federal judge has blocked a law protecting children from those who would prey upon vulnerable and troubled youth pushing sex change surgeries. All across the country, biological males are playing girls’ sports, teaching young women that their physical safety and ability to compete safely comes second to a man’s desire to masquerade as a woman. The Biden administration has done everything in its power to support these efforts.
And the attacks don’t stop there.
At the federal level, Democratic members of Congress are working to force American taxpayers to pay for the killing of unborn children up until the moment of birth. In states across the country, those working to help moms give their unborn baby the best life possible have been attacked over and over. The Biden administration has tried to replace a baby’s mom with a “birthing person,” and just this past week, the CDC released guidance for helping men to “chest feed” — putting newborn babies’ lives at great risk.
So, during this “All-Star Week,” we should recognize the real “All Stars” — the moms like Estella Aaron; mothers who love their children so much that they’re willing to stand up to any school board, any athletic department, the SPLC that will label them a hate-group and call them Nazis, the members of Congress and Planned Parenthood who try to tell them that abortion is their only option and that they cannot possibly raise a child and succeed, and the Biden administration that is actively working to replace them.
The threats against our children may not be as explicitly laid out in letters as those against the Home Run King were, but the threats are still there. Let’s pray that we all have the courage of Estella Aaron and the willingness to lay down our lives defending our children with love.
Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.