By Harold Michael Harvey
In 2017, the Atlanta Braves packed up and moved the team twenty miles north of Turner Field, less than a mile outside the city limits, but clear into the next county. Turner Field had been home to the Braves since the 1996 Olympics gifted the team a new stadium.
There was angst in the Atlanta community when the Braves announced they were moving to Cobb County on land suitable for building a mixed-use community around the new ballpark.
So, the Braves, in the spirit of a good corporate citizen to the region that lays the golden egg, donated the bust of Henry Louis Aaron, their all-time home run hitter, to the City of Atlanta.
The city was closing out the Kasim Reed administration and moving into the Keisha Lance-Bottom years. The Aaron bust rested in the city’s archives. Then Andre Dickens, who describes himself as “a deacon and a dad,” entered 2022 as the new Mayor of Atlanta. It was time for the Aaron bust to find a public home. The administration considered displaying it at city hall, and then Mayor Dickens weighed in on the discussion.
Dickens wanted to display the Aaron bust in a city park. What better park than one five minutes from Aaron’s home in Southwest Atlanta, Adams Park, where the mayor played baseball before middle school?
“It’s an exciting day in Atlanta,” Mayor Dickens said, adding, “to have this legend in our city. I wanted to display this bust in this park because I want young people to learn about Aaron’s story. I want young people to know that Aaron almost quit a few months into his professional career, but he got a call from his brother who told him he could not quit.”
Atlanta exercised its municipal powers and declared the baseball fields at Adams Park as the Henry Louis Aaron Baseball Complex at Adams Park. The complex consists of three ball fields refurbished with aid from the Braves and Park Atlanta.
“Thank you very much for this special honor,” Aaron’s widow, Billie Aaron, said, adding, “It did not have to be.”
Adams Park is the perfect public venue for the home run king who began his professional baseball career with the Indianapolis Clowns, a franchise in the Negro American League.
In 1990, Adams Park, under the direction of the Cascade Youth Organization, acting on a suggestion by Negro Leaguer, Chico Renfro, was one of the country’s first little league ballparks to name its teams after franchises from the Negro American League and the Negro National League.
With the naming of the sports complex at Adams Park after him, Aaron has come full circle, from the Negro leagues to the Major Leagues, and now three miles from the home-house, back to the Negro Leagues.
Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is the author of a book on Negro Leagues Baseball, The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball. He writes feature stories for Black College Nines. Com. Harvey is a member of the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, HBCU and PRO Sports Media Association, and the Legends Committee for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Harvey is an engaging speaker.
Harold Michael Harvey can be reached via email at email@example.com.