Cover image for Me and Hank : a boy and his hero, twenty-five years later
Me and Hank : a boy and his hero, twenty-five years later
Tolan, Sandy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 311 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.A25 T65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV865.A25 T65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV865.A25 T65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order


Author Notes

Sandy Tolan is the co-founder of Homelands Productions, an independent public-interest journalism organization.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Native Milwaukeean Sandy Tolan was nine years old when the Milwaukee Braves left town for greener pastures in Atlanta. Despite the Braves' defection, Tolan remained a loyal fan of hometown hero Hank Aaron. In 1973, when Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth's home-run record and reports emerged that the slugger was receiving racist hate mail, young Sandy wrote Aaron an encouraging letter, and Aaron responded with a handwritten note. Fast-forward 25 years later and Tolan again contacts his hero, this time to arrange a face-to-face meeting as part of an NPR program. This memoir, which examines the hatred that Aaron endured and attempts to assess why he is still an "underrated athlete," grows out of that program. Moving from Cooperstown to Atlanta, Tolan interviews Aaron and other retired players, including Dusty Baker and Phil Niekro as well as baseball commissioner Bud Selig, another Milwaukee native and Aaron supporter. Tolan also visits the Midwest, where he reminisces and discusses the social and racial atmosphere of the 1960s and 1970s. Depsite its scattershot approach, this is a heartfelt memoir from a loyal baseball fan. --Sue-Ellen Beauregard

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1973 baseball's greatest hitter, Hank Aaron, was nearing his greatest moment: surpassing Babe Ruth's 714 career home runs. As a result, Aaron received death threats and hundreds of pounds of hate mail, his daughter needed 24-hour FBI protection at college and his imminent achievement was all but vilified because many whites didn't want to see a black man best the cherished record of an iconic white man. Sixteen at the time and a lifelong fan of Aaron, the white Tolan was appalled at this racism and wrote his hero a letter of support. Aaron replied with a warmhearted letter, setting up the connection that sparked this enlightening memoir and prompted Tolan, a radio producer, to look up his hero in 1998. Tolan first visits Aaron to talk about breaking Ruth's record, then he interviews dozens of others on the same subject, including members of Aaron's family and his own. The result provides not just a chilling foil to the chivalric home run chase between McGuire and Sosa, but also a portrait of race relations from the 1950s until now. For blacks, Aaron's achievement was as significant as Jackie Robinson's crossing of the color line. But, while whites generally remember the well-publicized hatred that stalked Aaron, they have, according to Tolan, ignored his record (which remains undefeated) and made licensing Ruth's image a $3-million-a-year business. The author's sentimental recollections of childhood grow somewhat repetitious, and each chapter has the same tone of disbelieving outrage as Tolan's NPR piece that inspired the book. Still, the work is a worthy complement to Aaron's I Had a Hammer, and a valuable contribution to the civil rights bookshelf. Author tour; 20-city radio satellite tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When award-winning journalist Tolan was nine years old in 1965, his hometown Milwaukee Braves and beloved hero Hank Aaron moved to Atlanta. Following the Braves on Nashville's WSM radio station, Tolan began an Aaron scrapbook in 1973 as his idol's dethronement of Babe Ruth's all-time home run record became imminent. Learning of the voluminous hate mail and death threats Aaron received, the author wrote a letter to the baseball legend. And in what became a seminal event in his life, the now teenaged Tolan received a personal reply from the superstar. Twenty-five years later, he seeks and receives an audience with the great Aaron, scrapbook and letter in tow. Thus begins this melancholy and bittersweet valentine to baseball, heroes, and the inherent and pervasive racism in the national pastime. Like the classic baseball writings of Roger Angell and David Halberstam, Tolan's story uses baseball as a divining rod for subterranean social ills, and his interviews with Jesse Jackson, Aaron's daughter, Gaile, Andrew Young, commissioner of baseball Bud Selig, and childhood friends are all astute and revelatory. This is a work of singular beauty, whose gentle nostalgia and social gravity are inextricably woven together into a tale told simply in Tolan's gentle and boyish voice. An obligatory acquisition for all sports collections.ÄBarry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 The Encounterp. 23
2 Bittersweet Embracep. 41
3 Shadow of the Babep. 59
4 Hometownp. 75
5 Newly Southp. 107
6 Separate Memoriesp. 131
7 A Hero in the Neighborhoodp. 151
8 Hall of Famep. 175
9 Big Bluep. 203
10 Valuesp. 239
11 Inheritancep. 271
Sources and Acknowledgmentsp. 301
Photo Creditsp. 309