Hank Aaron Visits Notre Dame

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


South Bend Tribune - Only a handful of the 300 or so in the auditorium at Notre Dame's Mendoza School of Business on Wednesday actually saw Hank Aaron play a baseball game.

Aaron retired as baseball's all-time home run leader in 1976. The gathering of mostly entrepreneur majors weren't born until more than a decade later.

Didn't matter.

There was baseball talk. One student from Milwaukee thanked Aaron for the 1957 world championship. Another had the audacity to mention the name "Barry Bonds" in Hank's presence.

"You've got to be careful who you use as a role model," Aaron said. "They can look at someone -- I don't want to mention his name, but he hit more home runs than I did. Did he do it the right way?"

Hammerin' Hank did. He never weighed more than "175 pounds, soaking wet." He was discouraged from ever lifting a weight. He hit; hit with power; stole bases; and, as an outfielder, won three Gold Gloves.

He did business the same way.

"Just like baseball, you've gotta put your heart and soul into it," Aaron said.

That meant being at his multi-million dollar car dealerships by 5 a.m. It meant being a visible presence in the 32 restaurants he still owns.

"You have to make sure you run your business the way it's supposed to be run," Aaron said.

A poor African-American youngster from Mobile, Ala., Aaron relentlessly chased his dream.

Besides being the best baseball player he could possibly be, Aaron's life ambition was to be a success and then give back.

"When I retired from baseball, my wife (Billye) and I got together and said: 'What do I want to be remembered for?'" Aaron said. "My wife said, 'You chased your dream for many years, now it's time to help someone else chase theirs.'"

Thus was born Aaron's Chasing the Dream Foundation, which provides grants for children ages 9-12 to study writing, music, art, dance or sports.

Aaron has his philosophies:

"There are no shortcuts in life. If you think so, you'll get in trouble."

"You've gotta crawl; you've gotta walk; you've gotta take your time to get where you're going."

"The one thing (I learned) is how to treat people. Baseball is one thing. Business is something else."

"I don't know anyone who ever went to a ballpark to see an owner play. The players deserve (all the money) they can get."

"Barry Bonds (he actually did say the name that once) could have hit as many home runs without taking the substance he was accused of taking."

"Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame. I voted for him."

The 77-year-old was at ease in a room filled with 20-somethings. There was no generation gap.

"Could you be the (designated hitter) on my whiffle ball team?" one student asked.

"I haven't picked up a bat in 20 years," Aaron said.

So what? To those students, he was still the greatest home run hitter who ever lived.

"It makes you feel good when you have the respect of people here," Aaron said. "Probably 90 percent of the people in the audience never saw me play a game of baseball. They don't know whether I was a good baseball player, a bad baseball player, or just bragging on myself."

No brag. Just fact. Baseball or business, Hank's a legend.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/28449

Leave a comment




Recent Comments