Alleluia! Today is Easter Wednesday. We have no Saints to honor, but on this day in 1974 Atlanta Braves right-fielder Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth’s 1935 Major League Baseball record.
The last Negro league baseball player to have played in the major leagues, Hank Aaron hit home run number 713 on September 29, 1973, and ended that season one run shy of Babe Ruth’s record of 714 runs. Aaron stated that his only fear was that he might not live to see the 1974 season; over the winter, he was the recipient of death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see a black man break Ruth’s nearly sacrosanct home run record. Aaron also received an outpouring of public support in response to the bigotry; Babe Ruth’s widow, Claire Hodgson, even denounced the racism and declared that her husband would have enthusiastically cheered Aaron’s attempt at the record. The Braves opened the 1974 season on the road in Cincinnati with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s record in his very first at bat off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham, but did not hit another home run in the series. The team returned to Atlanta, and on April 8, 1974, a crowd of 53,775 people showed up for the game — a Braves attendance record. In the fourth inning, Aaron hit career home run number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. Although Dodgers outfielder Bill Buckner nearly went over the outfield wall trying to catch it, the ball landed in the Braves’ bullpen, where relief pitcher Tom House caught it. While cannons were fired in celebration, two white college students sprinted onto the field and jogged alongside Aaron for part of his circuit around the bases, temporarily startling him. As the fans cheered wildly, Aaron’s mother ran onto the field as well and hugged him tight; she later said she did so to protect him from being shot by racists as he reached home plate. Aaron retired from baseball two years later, with a total of 755 home runs. In 1999, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s surpassing of Babe Ruth’s career home run mark of 714 home runs, and to honor Aaron’s contributions to baseball, Major League Baseball created the Hank Aaron Award, an annual award given to the hitters voted the most effective in each respective league. The current career record for today home runs is 762, held by Barry Bonds, who broke Aaron’s record on August 7, 2007, when he hit his 756th home run at AT&T Park off pitcher Mike Bacsik.
I slept very heavily, with very vivid dreams, and did not wake up until 11:00 am. I read the morning paper while eating toast, then headed off to Lafayette at 12:30 pm. At the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch, I returned How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland, and checked out Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God by Will Durant, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith, and The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White. I then went to Barnes and Noble and put in a few hours in the comfy chairs catching up on stuff on my Galaxy S4. When I left Barnes and Noble at 5:00 pm, I called Richard, but he did not answer. At the Kajun Mart in Rayne I got gas for my car and purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawings.
Arriving home at 6:15 pm, I found that Richard had called our current yard guys and had them mow the lawn. I started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, then we went over to Rocky’s Cajun Kitchen to eat dinner. When we got home, I got on the computer to start today’s Daily Update. We watched CSI: Cyber at 9:00 pm. Our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team beat Northwestern State by the score of 9 to 6; our Tigers will next play the first game of a three-game home series with Auburn on April 10th. And our New Orleans Pelicans lost their game with the Memphis Grizzlies by the score of 74 to 110; our Pelicans will next play a home game with the Phoenix Suns on April 10th. And when the Weekly Virus Scan finishes (it’s doing the Weekly Backup right now), I will run the Weekly Virus Scan.
Tomorrow is Easter Thursday (Alleluia!) We once again have no Saints to honor. Instead we will recall that in 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War. And tomorrow is my Aunt Dee-Dee’s birthday (1919). I presume she is still alive; at any rate, the birthday and Christmas cards that I send to her do not come back to me, even though she is old enough now to have sat behind God in second grade. Richard has an appointment with our dentist in Mamou tomorrow morning. I will be doing my laundry tomorrow, getting my salad supplies at the store, and making my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday.
Our Parting Quote on this Easter Wednesday (Alleluia!) evening comes to us from Hedda Sterne, Romanian-born American artist. Born as Hedwig Lindenberg in 1910 in Bucharest, Romania, she was homeschooled until age 11, and upon her high school graduation in 1927, at age 17, she attended art classes in Vienna, then had a short attendance at the University of Bucharest studying philosophy and art history before she dropped out to pursue artistic training independently. She spent time traveling, especially to Paris developing her technical skills as both a painter and sculptor, and married a childhood friend Frederick Sterne in 1932 when she was 22. She showed her work for the first time in a group show, the 11th Exposition du Salon des Surindépendants, in Paris in 1938. In 1941 she escaped a certain death from Nazi encroachment during WWII when she fled to New York to be with Frederick. In 1944 she divorced Sterne and married Saul Steinberg, a Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator, and became a U.S. citizen. During the late 1940s she became a member of The Irascible Eighteen, a group of abstract painters who protested the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s policy towards American painting of the 1940s. In 1950 she was named one of the country’s best artists under age of 36 in the March 20 issue of Life, and the magazine published a group photo of the Irascibles taken by Nina Leen, in which Sterne was the only woman. During her artistic career she viewed her widely varied works more as “in flux” than as definitive statement, and maintained a stubborn independence from styles and trends, including Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. She and Sterne separated in 1960 but remained close friends; at that time she also began to disengage socially with the art world and leads an increasingly private life. In 1992 she met the art dealer Philippe Briet; they became friends, and he introduced her to writer Michel Butor, with whom she wrote the book La Révolution dans l’Arboretum in 1995. Briet’s death in 1997 cut short several projects that he and Sterne had planned. She had to quit painting in 1997 due to macular degeneration, but continued drawing. Steinberg died in 1999; in 2004 she suffered a stroke, and although she made a remarkable recovery, the complete failure of her sight ended her artistic career at the age of 94. Uninterrupted Flux: Hedda Sterne: A Retrospective by Sarah L. Eckhardt came out in 2006, and Stern reached her 100th birthday in 2010 (died 2011): “I have a feeling that in art the need to understand and the need to communicate are one.”