So Bonds broke Hammering Hank’s record. I am glad that’s over with and the guy can go on to fade into obscurity. But I don’t watch baseball much any more. Actually, I never did, except as a kid; the game is too damn slow. Just a bunch of guys standing around on the grass chewing the cud with occasional flurries of action. But it’s the great American Game, I guess; the Great American rural game, a sort of historic leftover.
I grew up thinking the Babe was the greatest. I memorized his numbers. 714 homers life time. And there were other things too like his prodigious eating habits, and he had a candy bar named after him. And before he had been a great hitter he had been a great pitcher, and all this with a blimp like upper body stuck atop toothpick legs.
So I watched TV the night Hammering Hank broke the record. I hadn’t paid that much attention to baseball, except maybe those Miracle Mets, since the early 60’s so Hammering Hank sort of crept up on me. And then he did it—broke the record, and that idiot announcer, Kurt Gowdy (a vastly over rated announcer) had to muck up the moment by saying something about what a great country America was. This was 1974. And Aaron had received death threats.
But Gowdy screwed it. The moment should just have been a baseball moment. He should just have kept his trap shut, and not made something political out of it. I mean America is Great because it “allows” black people to break the record of white people. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. How does that make America Great? If anything Great was done, Aaron did it. Not America.
I followed Bobby Bonds—Barry’s father—more than Barry. Bobby was a thirty thirty guy. 30 bases stolen, 30 home runs. Speed and power. I figure something Oedipal is going on with Bobby. His father was one hell of a player, that’s for sure. And when he saw those steroids going around, he just couldn’t help himself. He had to overcome his father and get to a point somehow where his superiority to his father could not be denied. He would bury his father and he has. No one will remember Barry now, except as Bobby’s dad.
I don’ t know what the announcer said when Bobby hit that dinger. I hope he said nothing. But had I been the announcer last night, I might have produced a Kurt Gowdy moment and said something like, “Score one for Oedipus.”