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I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  577 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The man who shattered Babe Ruth's lifetime home run record, Henry "Hammering Hank" Aaron left his indelible mark on professional baseball and the world. But the world also left its mark on him.

I Had a Hammer is much more than the intimate autobiography of one of the greatest names in pro sports—it is a fascinating social history of twentieth-century America. With courage a
ebook, 496 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1991)
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Jan 08, 2008 will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this when i was much younger and in the middle of an intense fascination with early african-american baseball players (tell me james "cool papa" bell didn't have the coolest nickname ever). i'll be the first to admit, this is first and foremost a baseball story. so if you're not "into" baseball, you might find it forgettable. but, particularly in the wake of recent scandals and broken records, i think hank aaron's story transcends sports.

while it might seem cliche, this book talks about
Apr 06, 2017 Luke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For many of us privileged to still be living here on this good Earth, we have never had the honor in seeing the immortal Hank Aaron play the game of baseball. We have never seen Hammerin' Hank knock one of his iconic 755 home runs out of the ballpark. Yes, his 715 home run - the swing that ended Babe Ruth's reign as the Home Run King in 1974 - is a moment that has been engrained in many avid baseball fans' minds (including the youth) through the replaying of that historic video at various moment ...more
John Kaufmann
Probably a 3.5. I gave it 3-stars instead of 4 to distinguish it from the better The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron. I read this one first and thoroughly enjoyed it. It covers the indignities and discrimination he faced all through his career, but especially in his early years. It covers his years with the Braves, his two World Series, and the race to Babe Ruth's record. However, it didn't do as thorough a job as The Last Hero in using Aaron's background and experiences as the context to delve ...more
Dec 10, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing. It should be a required read for anyone who has forgotten what the United States was like just a short 50 years ago, what kind of sharp racism Aaron faced throughout his twenty years, and what that means for the legacy of Americans. Baseball fans, people interested in social justice, and all inbetween should read this book about the man who broke Babe Ruth's record.
Feb 04, 2013 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never read, or even tried to read a full book cover to cover, and not once did I lose Hank Aaron's attention in the autobiography "I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story" I am a huge baseball fan and I can say this is a great read for any fan.
Jaime Contreras
I read the softcover of this years ago and reread it again recently. Henry Aaron was an honorable man, a terrific baseball player and a wonderful humanitarian. He valued his privacy and loved his family. I will always admire him for his bravery and nobility in the face of racism.
Brett Thomasson
A 2014 article in Slate tallks about how the early civil rights movement was driven by a desire for what author Tanner Colby calls "agency." African-Americans, he said, desired most of all to be able to live their lives as they chose, live where they chose, drink from whatever water fountains they chose, eat at whatever restaurants they chose, and so on. A push for such agency in education, however, was thwarted when the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case resulted in the closure of Africa ...more
Gee Duron
Sep 26, 2014 Gee Duron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is about the amazing baseball player named Hank Aaron, he was most known for breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. The story was written by Hank Aaron himself with the help of Lonnie Wheeler.

The story is about an African american Hank Aaron,that is striving to get to the big leagues, even through the abuse of him being black at the time included everything from name calling to things getting thrown at him he strives to succeed.

Hank Aaron was young when he realized he wanted to play ba
Sep 11, 2016 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before reading these quotes, bear in mind that this book was published twenty-five years ago. And consider that as of today, there is only ONE black manager in all of Major League Baseball.

"There is no acceptable excuse for the fact that there have only been a handful of black managers and no general managers since Bill Lucas. As I write this, the integration of baseball's coaching staffs and front offices is probably further behind than was the state of player rosters when I broke into the game
Jul 18, 2014 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge Atlanta Braves fan (and a fan of baseball in general), but because I'm a younger fan and didn't even like and understand baseball until a couple years ago I didn't really get to watch or learn about the Hank Aarons or Dale Murphys the Big Three or even the 1995 World Series Championship team, which is the most recent major event/player to come through Atlanta aside from Chipper Jones. This book was well written and not only recaps Aaron's career as a player and executive in baseball b ...more
Mar 25, 2009 4Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Which baseball player in history would consider the best? Well "I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron story talks about my favorite. His book talks about obstacles he faced such as racism. Aaron mentioned a lot of people in his life like his teammates. It gives you information about his career.

Many obstacles tried to prevent him from having a good baseball career. Racism affected his career when he and other African American players got booed. Segregation also made his career more difficult like when
Hank Aaron was until a couple of years ago the holder of major league baseball's career home run record, and he is by all accounts one of baseball's all-time greatest players. Aaron started his career in baseball soon after Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier, while black players still faced virulent racism on many fronts. Aaron faced more than most when he challenged Babe Ruth's home run record; he received thousands of hate-filled letters, many threatening his life, which are simply horri ...more
Aug 25, 2013 18mantheo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story I had a Hammer is an autobiography of Hank Aaron. It tells the story of Hank Aaron’s road to the big leagues; starting out in a little town out of Mobile, Alabama where Hank and his family lived in poverty and how the only thing he had was baseball and how he used baseball to make a life for him. Starting with local teams, to the Negro League, and finally to the big leagues. Along his path to earning the name Hammering Hank he faces many challenges from segregation to racism, and how ...more
Bennett Allen
Oct 19, 2015 Bennett Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Had A Hammer by Hank Aaron and Lonnie wheeler was a wonderful book. It was the story of hanks life and what he did. I thought it was funny when he told stories about locker room talks with his teammates. I also really liked it when they brought in quotes from previous teammates like Darrell Evans and Bill White. One thing I did not like though was when Hank would talk about all the racial slur's against him and his family.

Hank talks about baseball from when he was a kid playing with a stick in
Apr 15, 2016 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies, baseball
I grew up as a bit of a Hank Aaron detractor. In all of my youthful wisdom, I declared that he only broke the home run record because of his longevity (i.e. If you stick around long enough, sure you'll break records). I'm glad to have read this book to get a clearer picture of Hank Aaron, his abilities, and his person. What was disappointing was to find out how poorly he was received at times in his career. The scene in my mind of his running the bases (astride two fools) with the crowd going wi ...more
Apr 01, 2008 Joshua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Trying to read some "inspirational" baseball books to help the long fantasy baseball season and my results in the Moosepath League-ha. This is Aaron's autobiography that in my opinion is too long. Repetitive.

It is uplifting to read about what he went through breaking Babe Ruth's home run record in the early 1970s. I'm not sure that record will be broken (I don't acknowledge Bonds or any of the HGH/Roid manufactured ballplayers of today, sorry). Roger Maris holds the single season home run record
May 31, 2009 Badiss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a baseball player named Hank Aaron. Hank is the best player to every play baseball, because he has the record for the most homeruns. He is also in the hall of fame. This was very hard for Hank to do, because during this time everyone hated him because he was black. They treated him badly because they were jealous of his baseball skills, and because os his skin color.

I would recommend this book to anyone. Even though you arent a sports fan, this book will teach you a lot. It t
Owen Manthe
Aug 25, 2013 Owen Manthe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because of the great character development in Hank Aaron. The way Aaron developed in this book was phenomenal! At the start of the book Hank Aaron loved baseball as always but never really new the true meaning of it. So as he progresses in the book he learns to cherish this opportunity he was given and make the best of it. He starts to show that he isn't some boy from Mobile, AL that lived in poverty like the rest of blacks that have no way out except for sports. And that he s ...more
May 31, 2016 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Had A Hammer, by Lonnie Wheeler, relays the story of Hank Aaron who is considered an American hero for his insatiable passion, dignity, pride and drive for the integration of African Americans in baseball. I really enjoyed this book not only because it beautifully depicts the struggle that black men had to go through in order to even be considered "humans", but also because of how fearless Aaron is in speaking his mind on the subject of segregation which in my opinion is justified due to the f ...more
Sharon Heaverly Machuga French
I really enjoy reading about sports heroes and what makes them different.

After seeing the movie about Jackie Robinson's entrance into Major League Baseball, I wanted to know more about the African American moving into the Major League especially during the Civil Rights movements in the deep south. Hank Aaron was a very interesting player and his take on the the whole movement I found to be quite interesting. I also learned quite a bit about the drive in him the break Babe Ruth's home run record.
Jim Vuksic
Feb 14, 2015 Jim Vuksic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry ("Hank") Aaron is best-known for breaking Babe Ruth's homerun record. That was quite an achievement; however, I was more impressed with his achievements off the baseball field.

Mr. Aaron's autobiography will appeal to even those readers who are not sports enthusiasts. The manner in which he personally dealt with the racial prejudices of a society and sport that were still dominated by male caucasions during the 1950's and 1960's is admirable. Mr. Aaron's life story, told in his own words, w
Steven Spector
Aug 21, 2013 Steven Spector rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bit of rarity: an honestly written sports autobiography. Make no mistake: Aaron has no love lost with the City of Atlanta, although he may have softened a bit thanks to city overtures post publication. Takes you from his early child days in AL to his time post-baseball. Written in 1991. Obviously recommended.
Dec 27, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story of one of the greatest baseball players of all time, in which he discusses his early life, his time in Milwaukee, and his life in Atlanta. One sees the racial attitudes that made his years in baseball difficult and that, for him, took some of the glow off his status (which continues today) as baseball's home run king. A life story well-worth reading.
Karl Lehtinen
Jan 11, 2008 Karl Lehtinen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the reasons I loved baseball as a child was books like this.

Who knew at the same time I was learning about racism, history, and how to choke up on a 1-2 count.

You can't even imagine how much baseball has changed until you read that they used to sign kids like Aaron for about $100 and a bus ticket from Mobile.

Jun 13, 2016 Lela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Hank Aaron is one of my heroes, so I was anxious to read this book when I learned he had an autobiography. It is a long & detailed book, so I did skim through parts of it. It is a very honest portrait of his amazing life.
Dec 14, 2009 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable player and a remarkable man. Gracious even in his honesty about the burden he bore just to play the game he loved.
Apr 05, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite baseball player of all-time. Got to meet him once and interview him. Great baseball player, even greater man. This book is well done.
Apr 26, 2012 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love baseball as a sport, but I felt like the book just dragged on a lot.
Galen Varon
I read it many years ago. I was inspired by Mr. Aarons tenacity in the midst of adversity.
Kyle Kudelas
Dec 15, 2009 Kyle Kudelas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little long
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Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron is a retired American baseball player whose Major League Baseball (MLB) career spanned the years 1954 through 1976. Aaron is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In 1999, editors at The Sporting News ranked Hank Aaron fifth on their list of "Greatest Baseball Players."

After playing with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League and
More about Hank Aaron...

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“The day I become content is the day I cease to be anything more than a man who hit home runs.” 0 likes
“The way I see it, it's a great thing to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it's a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit,” 0 likes
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