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Hank Aaron died Friday. Appears 2021 will be no kinder to the baseball heroes of our youth than 2020, which saw the death of six Hall of Famers including Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson and Phil Niekro.

The tributes were rich for Aaron, the man accurately and respectfully known as Hammer.

There has never been an all-time great who is more underrated than Hank Aaron. Just go check the numbers, gang, because everyone knows about the 755 homers, but few realize how good a base runner, fielder and overall hitter — career .305 average, 3,771 career hits and a three-run homer short of 2,300 RBIs — Aaron was.

Beyond that, imagine the roller coaster ride in life Aaron experienced. Born in 1934 in Southern Alabama, his first baseball dreams were beyond his race because of segregation; his ultimate accomplishments, though, were well beyond those dreams.

To go from a childhood of separated leagues for white and Black players to getting death threats for breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record to being on a first-name basis with the first Black president, the history he saw — and helped craft — was incredible.

And the tributes that have addressed Aaron's grace and kindness, during and after his playing career, are more impressive than his amazing baseball numbers.

Rest easy, Hammer, and tell Knucksie we said hello.

 

Opportunity missed — again

My biggest complaint about the Hamilton County Board of Education has for more than a minute now been the muddled application of what we all know as the organizational chart, which clearly shows who answers to whom. The school board hires (and fires) and directs the superintendent. But here, the superintendent — be it Bryan Johnson or any of his predecessors — has told the school board the way it will be rather than the other way around.

We don't let the students rule the classroom, but somehow the board lost control of the system long ago and can't or refuses to reel it back in.

And punting key decisions like the board did Thursday does little to help that fact or that perception.

Whether you think kids should get back in the classroom (and you would be right) or think the status quo and the flexible schedule is right, fine. Vote, and make the call.

But kicking it back to the superintendent is weak-kneed and feeble. This is exactly the reason the school board is elected and has constituents, so their voice can be reflected by the nine people in those seats; Dr. Johnson's responsibilities, conversely, range across the county.

Make a decision, take a stand, school board. The only place where you can pass this much and still be called leaders is the football field.

No wonder all of us think the board works for Johnson as opposed to the other way around.

 

The brightest on a bright day

Yes, I watched Joe Biden get sworn in.

Yes, I made my kids watch.

Yes, I was encouraged by the majority of his speech.

And heck yeah, I was blown away by Amanda Gorman, who at age 22 was the youngest person to read a poem at an inauguration. Wowser.

As the symbolism of the locale and the nightmarish events of two weeks ago at the U.S. Capitol loomed over the day, Gorman's words inspired us all. She asked: "When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?"

It's a great question, and one that our elected leaders and fellow citizens, all of us, must answer in coming months. The work must be done by all of us.

I just hope the newly empowered leaders in D.C., will, as we wrote last week, make sure we are headed in the right direction — and not just the opposite direction of where we were — as they seek answers.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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