The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Defining Moment in Sports History

On April 8th, 1974, the Atlanta Braves returned from a three game series with the Cincinnati Reds. Hank Aaron had recently tied Babe Ruth's home run record and was looking to break that record against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hank Aaron was leading off the fourth inning against Dodger pitcher Al Downing. Legendary Dodger, and baseball radio broadcaster Vin Scully was announcing the game. Downing led off with a fastball low and away. Scully handled the rest:

          "Fastball, is a high drive into deep left center field. Buckner goes back to the fence, it is gone!What a marvelous moment for baseball! What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of   Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron; who is met at home plate not only by every member of the braves, but by his father and mother. He threw his arms around his father, and as he left the home plate area, his mother came running across the grass, threw her arms around his neck, kissed him for all she was worth! And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months."

Any fan of the great game of baseball, or moments in sports that change history forever can appreciate this moment. This moment wasn't just a great day for baseball players and fans alike. It was a great day for the African American community was well. This image of Henry Aaron is one of the most iconic and revered images of the great game of baseball. This image runs very deep with a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. For example, this image creates a lot of positive, and negative emotions among different groups of people in the community. The image reflects emotional scenarios because the photograph's focus on bodily expression not only displays emotions but also places the viewer in an affective relationship with the people in the picture. This is true especially today because of all the steroid controversy. Barry Bonds may have broken the home run record, but Hank Aaron is still the home run king. Whenever people look at this image they feel a sense of happiness and security knowing that his achievements were done without the help of performance enhancing drugs. 

When Hank Aaron hit this home run, it created a moment way larger than itself. In a sense this image uses civic performance because when Hank Aaron hit number 715, he created hope for millions of Americans everywhere both black and white. By breaking the home run record and breaking racial barriers, Hank Aaron allowed for other people to break personal barriers. This image represents all the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears Hank Aaron put into what he loved. All the death threats he received didn't bring him down. All of the speed bumps he encountered made him stronger.  Its as if Hank Aaron was lifting the weight off of millions of people struggling with their day to day lives by simply hitting a home run. Yet by hitting this home run he provided hope and the idea that anything is possible. 

We can all learn a thing or two from Hank Aaron. Hard work and perseverance gave Henry Aaron the ability to hit the long ball better than anyone. It gave him the ability to run around the base paths and receive a standing ovation from white and black fans alike. Most importantly, Hank Aaron can look at the situation now with how much of an influence steroids and banned substances have on professional sports and smile knowing he did the right thing by playing the game the right way. This image illustrates the civic performance, and captures the emotions that most feel when looking back on this legend making history. 

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die... 

Caleb Copley  

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