Hank Aaron, Hall of Famers open Museum
By Wayne Randazzo
MOBILE, Ala. - One of the greatest events in the history of sports in Mobile and certainly the biggest night in Hank Aaron Stadium since the BayBears opened the ballpark in 1997, the Grand Opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum brought several baseball legends to the Port City in honor of one the game's greatest heroes.
Aaron was humbled by the sights that he saw before him as he gave a heartfelt and touching speech in front of the small gathering of folks lined up outside the Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum in a pre-game ceremony. "This is a truly remarkable remembrance of my family," Aaron said. "I just can't thank the Mobile BayBears enough for making this all happen."
The BayBears were happy to put on the display with Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Bob Feller, Bruce Sutter and Reggie Jackson in attendance. Jackson, a surprise guest, made certain to come to Mobile to show his appreciation for "The Hammer".
"I'm here because of how much Hank means to the game of baseball," Jackson said. "I wore 44 later in my career as a tribute to him and (fellow Mobilian) Willie McCovey, and I couldn't think of a reason why I shouldn't be here tonight."
Hank, along with his wife, Billye, his brother, James, his sister, Alfredia and her husband, David, seemed in awe of how the museum turned out. Alfredia also presented Hank with a gift, a painting of their parents, Herbert and Estella Aaron, in the pre-game ceremony on the field.
Also in attendance on Wednesday were National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner, Southern League President Don Mincher and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Selig, who has known Aaron for over 50 years, wasn't going to miss this event for anything.
"Henry invited me six or seven months ago, and I said I'd be there," Selig said. "He said, 'what if you have somewhere to be,' and I told him I'd be there. He is just a wonderful man."
A wonderful man with a wonderful museum named in his honor. The Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum is complete and is now open for people from all around the City of Mobile, the State of Alabama and the nation to enjoy.
For more information on the Hank Aaron Childhood Home & Museum, please call (251) 479-BEAR or visit www.hankaaronstadium.com. For BayBears tickets, which start at $5 for kids and $7 for adults, call (251) 479-BEAR or log on to www.mobilebaybears.com.