Hardesty's Sports Corner: Hank's 755 HRs remain true record

By Tom Hardesty | Assistant sports editor Published:

Major League Baseball celebrated more than just the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record on April 8.

In my mind, it celebrated baseball's home run record, period.

I know the record book shows that Barry Bonds owns MLB's career HR mark with 762, with Aaron sitting in second place with 755 and Ruth third with 714.

But the record book also does not distinguish between eras, and Bonds' record was set at the height of baseball's Steroid Era and Live Ball Era.

Aaron set his record in a different time, when the ball didn't jump off the bat with the assistance of steroids, human growth hormone, testerone injections, "the cream" and any other performance-enhancing drug that has been associated with Bonds and his Steroid Era ilk.

I know MLB is loathe to put asterisks next to records -- especially one as hallowed as the career home run record -- but it needs to do something to distinguish between ill-gotten marks established in the Steroid Era and those that were legitimately earned by players who didn't cheat their way to the Hall of Fame.

Even with "the cream" and whatever else Bonds is alleged to have used, he still only finished a grand total of seven career home runs ahead of Aaron. Without that help, common sense says Bonds would be nowhere near Aaron's record and possibly not even Ruth.

Many of the big-name home run hitters from the Steroid Era have either admitted to or been found guilty of wrongdoing. Bonds has been one of the few holdouts, insisting that he did not knowingly take performance-enhancing drugs -- even though the evidence appears overwhelming that he did.

At this point, though, it is unlikely that Bonds' intentional use of PEDs will ever be proven, at least in a court of law.

But on the night of April 8, 1974 in Atlanta, Ga., Hank Aaron proved that he is the greatest home run hitter of all time. Even if the record book does not reflect it.

•••

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial is tragic on so many levels.

South Africa's "Blade Runner" -- who captured the world's heart and imagination when he became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympics during the 2012 Summer Games in London -- admits that he shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day 2013. Pistorius claims he thought an intruder was breaking into their home through a bathroom window and unwittingly fired the shots that took Steenkamp's life. The prosecution insists Pistorius knowingly gunned down Steenkamp in a fit of rage and should spend the rest of his life in prison.

Either way, it's beyond tragic that a man who was such an inspiration to us all has sunk to these depths. Whether purposeful or not, Pistorius did indeed kill his girlfriend. So rather than being remembered as one of the most courageous Olympians of all time, a man who forever tore down barriers and perceptions, Pistorius instead will be known for cutting down a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.

•••

I wasn't surprised to see NCAA president Mark Emmert earlier this week slam the effort by Northwestern University football players to unionize. Considering that this is a movement largely aimed at countering his organization's apparently limitless power and resources, you can see why it would make Emmert a little fidgety.

But I did agree with him when he was quoted as saying that making college athletes employees of their university "would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics."

That's exactly, the point, Mr. Emmert. Collegiate athletes have caught on to the inequity of the system, seeing it as a corrupt and failed model where others reap what they sow -- without offering the slightest hint of protection from an institution that is supposed to serve them.

Email: thardesty@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9446

Twitter: @TomHardestyRC

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