I have been a baseball fan since my cousin started taking me to watch the Mobile Bears play when I was eight years old. Those many visits to Hartwell Field in my south Alabama hometown fueled my love for the sport and I have been a fan ever since.

Although I have been a baseball fan for over sixty years I have never been to the Baseball Hall of Fame until a couple of months ago. Cooperstown, New York is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Unless you are a baseball fan or have relatives who live there you probably have no reason to visit the town. But if you love baseball, you should go.

The Hall of Fame and Museum features over 40,000 three-dimensional items, three million books and documents and 500,000 photographs. The climax of your tour of the facility is the Plaque Gallery featuring all of the more than 300 persons who have been voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Denton True (Cy) Young is one of the most recognizable names among the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Elected in 1937, he is one of the most consistent and durable pitchers having won 511 games, which is more than any other pitcher. One year after Young’s death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the previous season’s best pitcher.

In 1999, 88 years after his final major league appearance and 44 years after his death, editors at The Sporting News ranked Cy Young 14th on their list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players”. That same year, baseball fans named him to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Young said, “A man who isn’t willing to work from dreary morn to weary eve shouldn’t think about being a pitcher.” With that attitude and his ability it is easy to understand why he excelled at his profession.

Hank Aaron’s career is prominently highlighted in The Hall of Fame and Museum. The Sporting News ranked him fifth on their “100 Greatest Baseball Players” list. He held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years, and he still holds several MLB offensive records.

Aaron holds the record for the most seasons as an All Atar (21). and for the most All Star appearances (25); selected from 1955 through 1975 (MLB had 2 All-Star games a year from 1959 to 1962). He is tied with Stan Musial and Willie Mays for the most All-Star Games played (24). He was named to the national League All-Star roster 20 times and the American League All-Star roster one time. He also won three National League Gold Glove Awards.

Aaron became known as “Hammering Hank” and is best remembered for breaking the home run record held for 39 years by Babe Ruth. On April 8, 1974, a crowd of 53,775 people were present in Atlanta when he hit career home run number 715 in the fourth inning off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. He went on to hit 755, a record which was broken thirty-one years later by Barry Bonds.

One statement by Aaron included in the display in Cooperstown gives great insight into his philosophy of life. “The way I see it is its great to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it’s a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit.” That perspective explains Aaron’s success as a baseball player and his continued success as a respected business man.

Both Cy Young and Hank Aaron seem to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “To whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Or as one paraphrase puts it, “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!”

Jamie Jenkins

 

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