Henry Aaron is 'The Last Hero'

Ed Scott worked in one of Mobile's factories, but on the side he provided the eyes and ears for a Negro League team, the Indianapo¬lis Clowns. Their time was essentially over, and everybody knew it. Robinson had integrated the big leagues, and the unintended—or, depending on whom you talked to and how much money was being taken from their pockets, the intended—consequence of integration was the end of the black leagues. But in 1951, the Clowns could still attract young black ballplayers, and the major leagues still turned to the Negro Leagues as a source of talent. It was a relationship that would end before it began, for it would only be a matter of time before big -league clubs hired their own scouts to ?nd black players.

Scott estimated he spent "every other day" with Henry. They would meet at Carver Park and Scott would shag ?ies for him. He believed Henry had a special ability, not simply because of Henry's swing but also because he was able to make such consistent contact with crude equipment. "He could hit the ball with a broken piece of wood. That was hard to do," Scott recalled. "Especially the black kids. You'd see them out there hitting and running and catching, with a tennis ball or broken pool stick. A broken pool stick was a Louisville Slugger to us."

The more Scott talked to Henry about his ability, the more he understood that Henry was afraid of Stella. More to the point, he was afraid of telling his mother he wanted to ?nd out if what Ed Scott was saying about him was true, that he truly did possess the ability to be a big -time baseball player. Scott recalled needing to summon all his courage to approach the Aaron household and confront the formida¬ble Stella with his thoughts about her son's future. On a few occa¬sions, Scott would hide behind the side of the house. Stella Aaron sat on her porch. It was her favorite place at the house, her grandchildren thought.

In the fall of 1951, Scott made his case. Henry Aaron had the talent to go as far as he wanted as a baseball player. The Indianapolis Clowns were willing to give him a look. The Clowns were a legendary Negro League team, known for being the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. The team featured good ballplayers but also high circus-style entertainment. Toni Stone, a woman, played second base. King Tut, an enormous man with a round belly, served as a mascot, wearing nothing but a grass skirt. If Henry made the club, the Clowns would pay him two hundred dollars per month, which was twenty-?ve dollars a week less than what Herbert brought in at ADDSCO. At ?rst, Stella said no. After more discussion, the reality that college was not going to be an option settled in. Henry's gaining a college education had been, understandably, a mother's fantasy. The harder truth was that Henry had no interest in school and no track record as a student.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...