With apologies to the Polish Constitution of 1935 and National Talk Like Shakespeare Day, tonight we celebrate the career of Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron. It was on April 23 in the year 1954 when Hammerin’ Hank hit his first home run in Major League Baseball, nine days into his career as a Milwaukee Brave. Vic Raschi of the St. Louis Cardinals, who gave up Aaron’s first career hit eight days earlier, was on the mound for Aaron’s first lap around the bases. Some twenty years later, Hank became baseball’s new home run king when he broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 714 career homers. He would end his career in 1976 with 755 home runs, a record that stood until 2007 when players were putting needles in their asses for an extra edge. Cheaters.
Aaron spent 21 seasons with the Braves, the best organization in all of baseball, where he won three Gold Gloves, two NL batting titles, one NL MVP award and a World Series in 1957. He made the All-Star team every year from 1955 through 1975 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982. The Sporting News ranked him fifth in its “100 Greatest Baseball Players” list in 1999, the same year he made baseball’s All-Century team and the Hank Aaron Award was founded. Today, Aaron resides in Atlanta and does whatever it is Hank Aaron does.
I’ll use this space to remind you that Atlanta is currently tied for the best record in baseball.
Y’all want some News and Views Upton here?
I’m getting a late start so let’s run through it…
Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress met with some of your favorite media members Monday afternoon to discuss their decisions to return to school for their sophomore seasons. Willie was a quote machine, as he always is, while Alex said he’s out to prove he is more than just potential. Here are some of the quotes via UK…
— Cauley-Stein on the ability to get better because of the players coming in …
“To me, that’s the best thing about next year, is that you’re going against pros every day. This year it was like that until Nerlens got hurt and then it was like playing against Brian Long; and then you’re not getting better. You’d dominate in practice and get to a game and struggle. But next year it’s going to be a lot different. And that’s what I’m going to capitalize on every day. Going at these dudes every day because it’s not only going to make me better, but it’s going to make our team better. And it’ll make them better as well.”
— Poythress on if last year’s success played a role in returning to school …
“We have big expectations for next year. We just want to come prepared everyday. The goal is a championship and nothing less. That is the ultimate goal, and that is what we want so we just have to work hard and try to accomplish that.”
— Cauley-Stein on his decision to not enter the draft this year …
“I mean, I go this year and go late first round or come back for another year with the chance of going in the draft a little earlier, so staying was almost a no brainer. Plus I enjoy school. It wasn’t like I was in any rush to leave. I never thought that I’d be a one-and-done anyway so to come back wasn’t that big of a deal.”
— Poythress on if he forgets about last year or will use it for motivation for the upcoming season …
“We can use it as motivation. We don’t want next year to end up like this year. With the guys coming in and the people returning, we must have a fire burning in our belly. We don’t want to repeat last year so we have to work hard.”
In related news, Willie Cauley-Stein wore these glasses while talking to the media:
And now you want a pair.
On the recruiting scene, Andrew Wiggins canceled his in-home visits with North Carolina, Kansas and Florida State this week. Kentucky’s three competitors for Wiggins were all scheduled to make appearances in Huntington, but Wiggins will speak with the coaches via phone instead. Though it sounds like excellent news for Kentucky, Rob Fulford told CBSSports.com, “It means nothing. He’s just tired. He doesn’t want to deal with it.”
Wiggins was in Portland all weekend for the Nike Hoop Summit and his trip home was delayed after his flight was canceled. Fulford said his star player is drained from all the traveling over the past couple weeks and “he is shutting it down.”
The 11th annual CATSPY Awards were presented Monday night at Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performance during the 2012-13 year. We’ll have plenty of photos and videos from the event on the website tomorrow, but for now just know that men’s basketball and football went home empty-handed for what has to be the first time ever. Cross country stars Luis Orta and Chelsea Oswald took home Mr. and Mrs. Wildcat, while Gymnastics and Rifle took home Teams of the Year honors. Congrats to them and all the other award winners.
In the National Basketball Association, Nazr Mohammed played 17 big minutes in Chicago’s road win in Brooklyn. The former Cat scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds for the Bulls in Game 2 of the opening round series. His performance is pretty amazing considering Sunday’s page in the Season Never Ends calendar read, “It Happened This Week In 1995: McDonalds All-Americans Turner & Mercer expected to do big things; 300 lb. Mohammed a ‘project’ with potential.”
Yet here he is, 18 years later, playing key minutes for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Playoffs.
You’re the man, Nazr.
You know who’s not the man anymore? Richie Farmer. A federal grand jury indicted the former Mr. Basketball and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner for allegedly misusing property and over $450,000 during his time in office. The grand jury charged Farmer with four counts of misappropriating property and money, and one count of soliciting property to influence agriculture department business. Each charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be arraigned April 30 in Lexington.
According to our friend Jen Smith over at The Herald-Leader, UK has already sold 35,342 season football tickets. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s more than twice as many sold at this point last season and just 3,133 season tickets fewer than it sold all of last season. The hype is real.
This photo of Johnny Manziel and his Heisman trophy with a blunt in its hand isn’t real, according to Johnny Manziel:
The Texas A&M star claims it is photoshopped. Ummmm, yeah, right. We’ll believe that.
That’ll do it for now, friends.
See you back here at 9:00 a.m. with a Pulitzer-worthy post from Corey Nichols.