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What Hank Aaron and Barack Obama have in common

Thirty-five years after Hank defied threats and hate mail to break Babe Ruth’s home-run record Obama is also showing us a deeper realm of courage, resilience, and justice.

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Thirty-five years ago today, on a cool evening at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Hank Aaron shattered the most hallowed record in sports: Babe Ruth's career home run mark of 714. Yet Mr. Aaron's feat was remarkable not for its dethroning of a mythic American hero, but for its legacy of grace under fire – a legacy that would be invoked decades later in a race for the White House.

When Aaron swung at a fastball from the Dodgers' Al Downing and ran around the bases for the 715th time, he didn't feel like celebrating. "I was just glad it was over," Number 44 recalled many years later. Aaron, a black man, had just endured nearly two years of death threats, and literally tons of vicious hate mail – simply for daring to challenge the Babe.

A sampling:

"Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies...."

"Retire or die!!!"

"My gun is watching your every black move...."


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