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 29th, 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 person of color 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 8th, 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, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. 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, and Aaron was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. The current career record for today home runs is 762, held by Barry Bonds, who broke Aaron’s record on August 7th, 2007, when he hit his 756th home run at AT&T Park off pitcher Mike Bacsik.
Last night our #13 LSU Tigers lost their College Baseball game with the #15 Arkansas Razorbacks by the score of 3 to 9, our #8 LSU Lady Tigers lost their College Softball game with the #12 Alabama Lady Crimson Tide by the score of 0 to 3, and our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Denver Nuggets by the score of 106 to 122.
When I woke up to get ready for work I had a text from Michelle; Callie and our granddaughter arrived at the New Orleans airport yesterday afternoon, after she spent eight ours at the airport between Wednesday and Thursday, and then almost missed her connecting flight to New Orleans. My daughter also said that they would be visiting until Thursday, and would try to pass by on Saturday or Sunday; I sent her a text that Sunday after lunch would be best for us. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and our paycheck hit the bank last night. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table all day; I was on Pai Gow, which was dead from 4:00 am until 9:00 am, except for the last hour of our shift, when I sat at the dead Macau Mini Baccarat table.
On our way home Richard called Susan; she said that she and Butch were just walking into the door of his apartment, and that she would call him back. Once home from work I set up my medications for next week. I then did a store list for Richard and read the morning paper while Richard paid bills and wrote out the check to pay for our 2016 Louisiana Income Taxes; he then left for the store to do the grocery shopping, and I left for the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. On the door of the Adoration Chapel was the usual Easter notice that the Chapel will be closed from after Holy Thursday evening meditation until Easter Monday (so, as usual, I will not be doing my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration next week). During my Hour I read the April 3rd, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine.
When I got home from the Adoration Chapel I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Plus app, and printed out the forms to mail off our 2016 Louisiana Income Taxes, which Richard and I then signed. (I mail the State taxes, because TurboTax would charge me about $19.00 to Efile it; mailing it just costs me printer paper, printer ink, and a stamp.) Richard got a call from Susan; Butch is settled into his apartment again, his appointment with the urologist is on Wednesday, Susan does not have a mailbox key, and Nita (from Georgia) is also over there. And once I finish this Daily Update I purchase Shanghai Girls by Lisa See on Kindle, and I will get ready to go to bed; I did not sleep well last night, somehow, and could use some extra sleep. Our #13 LSU Tigers (20-11, 5-6) will be playing a second Away College Baseball game with the #15 Arkansas Razorbacks (23-6, 8-2), our #8 LSU Lady Tigers (31-8, 7-3) will be playing a second Away College Softball game with the #12 Alabama Lady Crimson Tide (33-6, 9-4), and our New Orleans Pelicans (33-46, 6-10) will be playing an Away NBA game with the Golden State Warriors (65-14, 13-2).
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, the Sunday that ushers in Holy Week, and we have no Saints to honor. (Technically, there are no Saints honored on any given Sunday, with a few exceptions, and none at all honored in Holy Week or Easter Week. But I like to honor my Saints, Blesseds, Venerables, and Servants of God on whichever date their feasts fall upon.) 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. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will start reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See via Kindle on my tablet. After lunch the girls (Callie, Michelle, and the baby) will come over for a bit. Our #13 LSU Tigers will be playing the third Away College Baseball game with the #15 Arkansas Razorbacks, and our #8 LSU Lady Tigers will be playing the third Away College Softball game with the #12 Alabama Lady Crimson Tide. Richard will be grilling chicken with the fixings for dinner. I will do my Daily Update before I leave for the 6:00 pm Mass tomorrow for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.
Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from David Laventhol, American newspaper editor and publisher. Born in 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his father was at the time of his birth the Harrisburg bureau chief on the Philadelphia Record. Later the family moved to Washington, D.C. where his father was in charge of Major Legislative Actions. In high school Laventhol edited the school’s paper, the Beacon, and then went to Yale where he majored in English and was elected managing editor of the Yale Daily News. He graduated in 1957 and joined the St. Petersberg Times (later The Tampa Bay Times) as a reporter, and after taking a break to receive a master’s from the University of Minnesota in 1960, became national news editor before going to the New York Herald Tribune as city editor in 1963. In 1966 Ben Bradlee brought him to the Washington Post as night managing editor, and in 1968 gave Laventhol the task of redesigning the “For and About Women” section. Bradlee and Laventhol created the Style section, described as a “monumental achievement”, later “imitated in every paper in America”, and which concentrated on vibrant writing and feature articles. Laventhol then moved to Newsday in 1969, soon becoming editor under publisher Bill Moyers. In that period he designed Part II, its counterpart to the Style section, and introduced a Sunday edition in 1972. During Laventhol’s editorship, Newsday won four Pulitzer Prizes, including the 1974 Public Service prize for its massive 33-part investigation “The Heroin Trail”, uncovering heroin from its production in Turkey to addiction on the streets of Long Island, described by Floyd Abrams as the “single most daunting and expensive series in the institution’s history”. Laventhol was a strong advocate of press freedom, and had a long association with the International Press Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Pulitzer Prize committee, chairing each of these at various periods. As editor of Newsday in 1976, he sent Les Payne, one of the undercover reporters from “The Heroin Trail”, to Soweto to cover the riots. As a black man, Payne was able to report more accurately on the number of deaths during that uprising, leading to Payne and Newsday being banned in South Africa. He rose to publisher in 1978 and launched a New York City edition in 1985. Called New York Newsday, it won critical praise for its mix of news and entertainment, with some calling it the “most enterprising and in many respects the best daily newspaper in New York City”. Newsday was at that time owned by the Times-Mirror corporation, and Laventhol moved to California 1989 as publisher of the Los Angeles Times and president of the corporation. Newsday and Payne returned to South Africa to cover Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. The Los Angeles Times won three Pulitzer Prizes under Laventhol’s leadership, including the Spot News prize “for balanced, comprehensive, penetrating coverage under deadline pressure of the second, most destructive day of the  Los Angeles Riots.” The paper opened new regional editions and a Spanish-language edition. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Laventhol retired from Times-Mirror in 1994, and took the 1994 International Press Institute Congress to Cape Town very shortly before South Africa’s first free elections. Mandela and F.W. de Klerk gave the opening speeches, with Mandela thanking the international press for keeping apartheid in the news and saying: “We are confident that your presence will, as in the past, assist in the birth of the democratic new order.”Many of his expansions were reversed in the contraction of the newspaper industry, most notably New York Newsday, which was closed in 1995 for financial reasons, with some sources citing its loss-making and others contending it was about to break even. During his retirement, Laventhol was publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, contributing a number of articles critical of the direction of the news industry, and the effects of modern media being simultaneous with the events they are reporting, having been a passenger on Jet Blue Flight 292, which showed live news of its own troubled flight (died 2015): “Journalists are moralists. They’re primarily in the business to make a better world, to improve society through revelations of its sins and glories.”