The Reflectionist

Location: New York, New York

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Aaron Drops to Number Two

For fifty years we could depend on one thing: The all time list of major league baseball players started with Hank Aaron. How comforting that the all time home run champion was also the first player on the list through alphabetical happenstance. The end of the list has its own serendipity. It ends with Zwilling, as in Edward "Dutch" Zwilling. He was born in St. Louis in 1888 and made his major league debut with the White Sox in 1910. That was just for what baseball fans call "a cup of coffee." He got into twenty seven games. He was back in the bigs with the Cubs in 1916. He managed to play in 35 more games before hanging his spikes up for good. For his career he had a .157 batting average and one home run. It seems appropriate that the end man on the list would be tied for least home runs (we will disregard those who have none as not being worthy of being on a list of home run hitters) and the head man would be alone at at the top with 755.

So, what happened to supplant Mr. Aaron from his rightful place? Why was the event not on the nightly news nor prominently mentioned in the sports pages? Why did it get almost no mention anywhere at all? How could it be that it happened last year and I only heard about it today? I have no answer for that. I can just report that this momentous event occurred without causing a ripple in the great pool of popular culture and sports history. I can report that the man who has taken the place of Hammerin' Hank is not even a slugger. He is a pitcher by the name of David Aardsma. He made is major league debut with the SF Giants last year. He pitched in eleven games, all of them in relief. Not only does he not have a home run, he hasn't yet been to bat. A couple of weeks ago he was traded from the Giants to the Cubs. He is young, not yet twenty four. Maybe he will pull a Babe Ruth and turn from pitching to slugging. Maybe he can earn the right to be first on the list and not just occupy it by right of birth. The only reason this is possible is that he is still in the league that shuns the designated hitter. In the National League pitchers are required to take their turns at bat. That is only proper and the way things should be. I hope Mr. Aardsma has a long and productive career. I hope when he hits his first home run they can get him together with Hank Aaron for a photo op.