Cover image for I had a hammer : the Hank Aaron story
I had a hammer : the Hank Aaron story
Aaron, Hank, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, [1991]

Physical Description:
xvii, 333 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1170 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 34 Quiz: 05562 Guided reading level: NR.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.A25 A33 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV865.A25 A33 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV865.A25 A33 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV865.A25 A33 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
GV865.A25 A33 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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Henry Aaron left his mark on the world by breaking Babe Ruth's record for home runs. But the world has also left its mark on him. Hammering Hank Aaron's story is one that tells us much about baseball, naturally, but also about our times. His unique, poignant life has made him a symbol for much of the social history of twentieth-century America. Raised during the Depression in the Deep South enclave of Mobile, Alabama, Aaron broke into professional baseball as a cross-handed slugger and shortstop for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. A year later, he and a few others had the unforgettable mission of integrating the South Atlantic League. A year after that, he was a timid rookie leftfielder for the Milwaukee Braves, for whom he became a World Series hero in 1957 as well as the Most Valuable Player of the National League. Aaron found himself back in the South when the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1965. Nine years later, in the heat of hatred and controversy, he hit his 715th home run to break Ruth's and baseball's most cherished record--a feat that was recently voted the greatest moment in baseball history. That year, Aaron received over 900,000 pieces of mail, many of them vicious and racially charged. In a career that may be the most consistent baseball has ever seen. Aaron also set all-time records for total bases and RBIs. He ended his playing days by spending two nostalgic seasons back in Milwaukee with the Brewers, then embarked on a new career as an executive with the Atlanta Braves. He was for a long time the highest-ranking black in baseball. In this position, Aaron has become an unofficial spokesman in racial matters pertaining to the national pastime. Because of the depth and pertinence of Aaron's dramatic experiences, I Had A Hammer is more than a baseball autobiography. Henry Aaron's candor and insights have produced a revealing book about his extraordinary life and time.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans will be eager to read all-time home-run king Aaron's autobiography, written with freelancer Wheeler, especially as he was one of the last major league players with his roots in the Negro League. At 18 the Mobile, Ala.-born athlete was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns and within months was on his way to organized white baseball. He helped to integrate the South Atlantic (Sally) League--a horrible experience--and within two years was playing for the Braves in Milwaukee, Wis., a city that loved him; after 13 years the team moved to Atlanta, where he was shown little affection. Each chapter begins with a scene-setting introduction by Wheeler, then Aaron takes over, aided by reminiscences of boyhood friends, former teammates and baseball executives. The book is as much a social document as a memoir, for Aaron is militant on race relations and views himself as a major successor to Jackie Robinson in the fight to end sports racism, which he finds widely practiced still. Photos not seen by PW. 100,000 first printing; $125,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

YA-- Aaron's autobiography is much more than a collection of baseball memories. It is the first-hand account of the prejudice faced by Aaron and his contemporaries who followed Jackie Robinson into the big leagues. The narrative is modest yet supremely confident ; from it emerges a picture of an incredibly talented man who fought for the opportunities he deserved. During the 23 years he played the game, Aaron became the best hitter of all time, surpassing even Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Readers will enjoy this inside look at his life and career. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I Had a Hammer The Hank Aaron Story Chapter One The day I left Mobile, Alabama, to play ball with the Indianapolis Clowns, Mama was so upset she couldn't come to the train station to see me off. She just made me a couple of sandwiches, stuffed two dollars in my pocket, and stood in the yard crying as I rode off with my daddy, my older brother and sister, and Ed Scott, a former Negro League player who managed me with the Mobile Black Bears and scouted me for the Clowns. When we got to the station, Mr. Scott handed me an envelope with the name Bunny Downs on it. Downs was the business manager of the Clowns, and when I arrived at their camp in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I was to hand him the envelope unopened. My knees were banging together when I got on that train. I'd never ridden in anything bigger than a bus or faster than my daddy's old pickup truck. As we pulled out of the station and Daddy and Sarah and Herbert Junior and Mr. Scott kept getting smaller and smaller, I never felt so alone in my life. I just sat there clutching my sandwiches, speaking to nobody, staring out the window at towns I'd never heard of. It was the first time in my life that I had been around white people. After a while, I got up the courage to walk up and down the aisle a few times. I wanted to see what a dining car looked like, and I needed somebody to tell me where I wasn't allowed to go. Then I sat back down, listened to those wheels carrying me farther away from home, and tried to talk myself out of getting off at the next stop and going back. I've never stopped wondering if I did the right thing that day. I was barely eighteen at the time, a raggedy kid who wore my sister's hand-me-down pants and had never been out of the black parts of Mobile. I didn't know anything about making a living or taking care of myself or about the white world I'd have to face sooner or later. I didn't know what I wanted to be doing when I was forty or any of the other things I needed to know to make a decision that would affect the rest of my life-except for one. I knew that I loved to play baseball. And I had a feeling that I might be pretty good at it. I suppose that's reason enough for an eighteenyear-old boy to board a train and set off on his life's journey, and I suppose it's time I stopped secondguessing myself. But I'm not eighteen anymore, and two generations later I'm still living with a decision I made back when JFK was starting out as a senator. I live with the fact that I spent twenty-five of the best years of my life playing baseball. Don't get me wrong; I don't regret a day of it. I still love baseball-Lord knows, it's the greatest game in the world-and I treasure the experience. God, what an experience ... I Had a Hammer The Hank Aaron Story . Copyright © by Hank Aaron. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story by Hank Aaron, Lonnie Wheeler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.