Just try to imagine how much more intense and challenging his predicament would have been. Can you picture the potential for incessant racist taunts on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the blogosphere? In the 1970s, the haters reached Aaron by what we call “snail mail.” Today, in our sped-up-world of modern communications, Aaron would have had no escape.
Racism existed before Aaron challenged the Babe and it continues to pervade our society today, all over the world. I made a cursory Google search to check out “sports racist taunts on Twitter” from 2014 alone and found numerous examples, such as:
“Cops Investigate Racist Taunts at Stan Collymore After He Accused Luis Suarez of Diving”; “Students Suspended After Racial Slurs at Basketball Game”; “Racism Rears Its Ugly Head: Peruvian Fans Shout Epithets at Black Brazilian Soccer Player”
Plus, we witnessed the possible racial overtones in the bullying furor late last year that engulfed the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and the reaction to Richard Sherman’s post-game comments after the NFC championships game. Even in those simpler times, Aaron, caught up in a media whirlwind that he did not sign up for, surely paid a price for his lofty accomplishment. Indeed, Aaron had gotten death threats during the winter before the start of the 1974 baseball season. The Atlanta Journal discreetly crafted Aaron’s obituary, just in case.