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I Had a Hammer
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Fans will be eager to read all-time home-run king Aaron's autobiography, written with freelancer Wheeler, especially as he was one of the last major league players with his roots in the Negro League. At 18 the Mobile, Ala.-born athlete was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns and within months was on his way to organized white baseball. He helped to integrate the South Atlantic (Sally) League--a horrible experience--and within two years was playing for the Braves in Milwaukee, Wis., a city that loved him; after 13 years the team moved to Atlanta, where he was shown little affection. Each chapter begins with a scene-setting introduction by Wheeler, then Aaron takes over, aided by reminiscences of boyhood friends, former teammates and baseball executives. The book is as much a social document as a memoir, for Aaron is militant on race relations and views himself as a major successor to Jackie Robinson in the fight to end sports racism, which he finds widely practiced still. Photos not seen by PW. 100,000 first printing; $125,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Mar.)

YA-- Aaron's autobiography is much more than a collection of baseball memories. It is the first-hand account of the prejudice faced by Aaron and his contemporaries who followed Jackie Robinson into the big leagues. The narrative is modest yet supremely confident ; from it emerges a picture of an incredibly talented man who fought for the opportunities he deserved. During the 23 years he played the game, Aaron became the best hitter of all time, surpassing even Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Readers will enjoy this inside look at his life and career.

Elegant, uncomplaining, and inspiring, I Had a Hammer is a true American treasure about a true sustainable hero.--Douglas Brinkley

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