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I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story Mass Market Paperback – April 15, 1992

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (April 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061099562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061099564
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,657,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

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.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This country needs more heroes like Hank Aaron.
Rick Nelson
Mr Aaron is one of the most skilled players in baseball history, and his telling of his story explains that he is much more than that.
Todd E. Coppernoll
He is truly a great American. it is a shame the way he was treated.
wayne landry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jon Eric Davidson on September 15, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this baseball season where my favorite team is floundering in the cellar, and every good story(compelling divisional races) is counterbalanced by the bad (steroids), I have been trying to maintain interest by re-reading some baseball books that I have read over the years. After re-reading "I Had A Hammer", I remember why it remains one of the best biographies/autobiographies that I have ever read.

The sports genre in books is much harder than one would think to keep up interest in. There are very few gems in any sporting subject; mostly it's very mediocre to terribly vapid. Usually a fan becomes disappointed in their sports "heroes" when they read a biography about them, because the writing can be so bad. Fortunately, for a ballplayer as great as Hank Aaron, the work lives up to the character and legend of the man.

Mr. Aaron does a splendid job of taking the reader through his life in Alabama, his discovering the game of baseball, and - of course - his remarkable career. His writing style provides enough description to allow the reader to get a true mental "picture" of what his life was like without getting bogged down in minutiae. Throughout the book, I had the feeling like I really was there watching his career unfold.

Of course, that brings us to the real core - and most important part - of his life story. That is, what Mr. Aaron experienced as he neared and eclipsed Babe Ruth's home run record. Most celebrities or sports figures would relate this in that sensational, "woe-is-me", tabloid-tell-all sort of way. Not Mr. Aaron. He shares many of the truly hateful and despicable letters he received from people across the nation who saw the idea of an African-American breaking the record of a white man as egregious. Mr.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on July 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific autobiography that transcends the classification of sports writing. It is written in a style and format that that is compelling and informative. The typical sports biographies tell a series of funny and dramatic inside stories around memorable moments in sports history that the subject participated in. When well done, the reader gets what he or she is looking for and then some. When poorly done we get some stale jokes, old stories and an inept attempt at describing the true meaning of courage. In "I Had a Hammer" Henry Aaron and Lonnie Wheeler have given us a glimpse at a young black man growing up in the Deep South to become the greatest home run hitter of all time. In the odyssey we see the elements of society alternately denigrate and celebrate this gifted athlete. We are given these insights through the co-writer's preambe to each chapter and the personal recollections of key players in the life and career of Hank Aaron. This array of perspectives is excellently done and gives the book a good flow. What gives it the greatest impact is the candid personal recollections of Mr. Aaron. He is outspoken in his contempt for the elements of racism that followed (or is it lead) him every step of the way to the top. Yet he is forgiving of many who may have slurred his race in the past and then later learned to overcome their biased opinions. Much of that transition came through their experiences with him and other early black major league ball players. This is a book about our nation's racial attitudes as seen through the experiences of the author.
Don't be mistaken, this is still an excellent book for the sports fan. The casual fan will come away with a greater sense of sports history.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rachel M. Stenberg on June 27, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In his autobiography, Henry Aaron takes you back to the beginning of his baseball career and makes you feel that you were right there with him. You felt the hurt, disgust and anger that he did as he confronted racism around every corner and in every ballpark. And he handled it all with such dignity. It follows his career from Milwaukee, a city that loved him and still does, to Atlanta, a city that never fully understood or appreciated him. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, this book looks at social issues and how it related to baseball of that era and transended into today. I strongly recommend this to anyone who just wants to read a terrific life story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on January 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I started following baseball when we moved to NJ in the late 60's and, serendipitously, the first season that really captured my attention was 1969. We had a color TV (a rarity at that time--it was a big old console job with stereo & turntable built-in. You sometimes had to bang underneath the picture tube with a hammer to fix the vertical hold) and our next door neighbor Joe Koberlein would come over to watch Mets games.) Unquestioningly loyal to our beloved Amazins, my brother and I had little doubt that Tommie Agee and Cleon Jones (both of whom happen to have come from Aaron's hometown of Mobile, AL) were the two best outfielders in baseball, maybe the two best ever. Our Father, who had doggedly remained a Dodger fan despite their move West, would put in a word for Duke Snider. We lived in Yankee country, so Mickey Mantle still had his backers and their were those residual Giants fans who stumped for Willie Mays--who also won allegiance from many black fans on racial solidarity grounds. But I really don't ever remember a Hank Aaron fan. Sure we knew he was good, especially during the NLCS were we reminded of how dangerous he was, but he just wasn't terribly glamorous or personable and he played for a team that noone rooted for, so to our minds he was barely worthy of notice. The, seemingly all of a sudden, we realized the guy was about to catch Babe Ruth. I remember NBC breaking into their regular programming to show his 715th HR live. Then began the arguments over just how good he was; arguments that always seemed to have a whiff of race about them. In the ensuing years this argument has hardly died down and the racial overtones have certainly not faded.Read more ›
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