February 06, 2009
Lip Pike is baseball's home run king. So is Charlie Jones. As are Jim O'Rourke, Harry Stovey, Dan Brouthers and Roger Conner.
Those are the sluggers who held baseball's home run record – Pike, who was said to have impressive power and speed, retired in 1879 with a staggering 20 HRs – before a kid named Ruth cranked his 139th dinger in 1921 to supplant Conner atop what would become baseball's most hallowed list.
Fifty-three years later, Hank Aaron climbed past Ruth to become the home run king most current baseball fans know and love.
Then came Barry Bonds.
This is not to pass judgment on Bonds' standing as the reigning home run king. But until his name is purged from the record books (by databases or A-Rod breaking the mark), he will stand as the man to hit more home runs in baseball's history.
Loathe him or not.
Aaron celebrated his 75th birthday on Thursday, and in my mind he is still baseball's home run king. Not because I don't acknowledge Bonds' record or buy into the asterisk nonsense, but because, to me, once you've been baseball's home run king, you always will be.
Once you've been sworn in (flubbed or not), you're Mr. President. Forever.
Sure, once out of office the President is referred to as the "former" or "ex" President (among other things). But the men who held the office are always greeted as "Mr. President."
Loathe them or not.
So happy birthday, Mr. Home Run King.