Hank Aaron’s Slump

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In Jacksonville, Florida, where he carried off almost everything except the franchise during the South Atlantic League baseball season of 1953, there is still a considerable degree of puzzlement about Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron, now one of the mightiest warriors in the tribe of the Milwaukee Braves. There was, for instance, the time in Jacksonville that summer when Aaron was in the grip of a rare batting slump, and one of his teammates asked in clubhouse conversation how he was going to cure it.

“Oh, I called Mr. Stan Musial about it,” was Aaron’s deadpan reply, “and I’m coming out of it.”

“What did Musial tell you to do?” asked the teammate, an in elder named Joe Andrews.

“He said, ‘Keep swinging,’” Aaron said.

Shortly the slump passed and Henry thundered on to a .362 finish. meanwhile the Musial story was repeated often in dugouts around the league. On the day when Aaron got the league’s Most Valuable Player award, manager Ben Geraghty decided it might be well to have Henry repeat his Musial tale to the sports writers who were inquiring into the reasons for his success.

“Man, I never called Stan Musial,” Aaron said, shaking his head vigorously.

“But you told Joe Andrews you did,” Geraghty said.

“I’m liable to tell Joe Andrews anything.”

Spec Richardson, general manager of the Jacksonville Braves, is representative of the perplexed local opinion that Aaron left behind. “Tell you the truth,” he says, “we couldn’t make up our minds if he was the most naive player we ever had or if he was dumb like a fox.”

National League pitchers have long since reached the verdict that there is nothing naive about this 22-year-old out elder when he takes a baseball bat in hand. over the last two and a half seasons in Milwaukee, he has carved out a reputation as probably the best fast-ball hitter in the league, and a man who should be up there among the batting leaders for many years to come.

— “Born to Play Ball” by Furman Bisher, Aug. 25, 1956

Click to read the complete article on Hank Aaron, “Born to Play Ball,” from the August 25, 1956, issue of the Post.