Aaron remains a crowd pleaser

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

As he walked through the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Hank Aaron was followed by gasps.

“Was that him?” asked one fan, craning his neck to get a glimpse of the man who remains the standard by which other players are judged.

4-25-09-Muder_Aaron.jpgIndeed, Henry Aaron still inspires awe among those who cherish the National Pastime. His numbers — 32 years after he retired — remain legendary. And yet Aaron has put all that into perspective — and did so again Saturday at the dedication of the Hall of Fame’s new exhibit Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.

“The biggest achievement in my life has nothing to do with baseball,” he told the crowd moments before the ribbon cutting. “It’s establishing the Chasing the Dream Foundation, helping children chase their dreams like I did.”

Aaron, joined by his wife of 35 years, Billye, and Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay, seemed completely at ease Saturday in a limelight he often avoids. He smiled often, telling tales of how he once bought a car from future Commissioner Bud Selig (then a successful car dealer in Wisconsin) and enjoying another well deserved moment in the sun.

“I watched you hit No. 714,” said a fan to Aaron. “It was one of the greatest moments of my life.”

No doubt, others left Cooperstown on Saturday feeling the same way — having witnessed living history at the Hall of Fame.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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