MLB legend Hank Aaron recently said at a ceremony in Atlanta for the “Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards” he’d decline a White House invitation from President Donald Trump.
Dave Zirin of The Nation reported the news Monday, and provided quotes from Aaron, 84, about his hypothetical decision, which follows suit among some of major sports’ most recent championship teams:
There’s nobody there I want to see. […] I can understand where the players are coming from…I really do. I understand they have their own issues and things they feel conviction about. They have a right to that, and I probably would be the same way, there’s no question about it.
Among those to decline a trip to the Oval Office since Trump was sworn in are the Golden State Warriors, who opted to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture instead in February.
The South Carolina 2017 NCAA women’s national championship team also refused to make the trip to Washington, D.C.
After winning the most recent Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t show up for their scheduled visit, which led to President Trump hosting a patriotic event in its place on June 5, as reported by The New York Times‘ Michael D. Shear.
Aaron’s stance in solidarity with those teams is hardly a surprise. After all, there’s good reason as to why he has awards regarding justice named for him. His baseball career took place in the midst of the civil rights movement in the United States, and as Zirin points out, he was a persistent opponent of segregation.
Heck, Aaron’s professional career on the baseball diamond began in what was called the Negro Leagues, before spending most of his playing days with the Atlanta Braves.
A Mobile, Alabama, native, Aaron dealt with racism throughout the course of his life. Unfortunately, the president has drawn criticism for certain remarks and hints of racism over the years, highlighted in an exhaustive list published by The New York Times in January.
“Hammerin’ Hank” earned his moniker for his home-run prowess, ranking second in MLB history with 755 dingers to go with a .305 batting average, 2,297 RBI and three Gold Glove Awards in the outfield over a 23-year MLB career.