Baseball writer to discuss home run king on May 1

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — The Springfield Free Public Library will welcome back baseball writer Dan Schlossberg on Wednesday, May 1, at 7 p.m., when he discusses his newest book, “Home Run King: The Remarkable Record of Hank Aaron,” which will be released on Tuesday, May 14.

In the 50 years that have passed since Aaron hit his 715th home run and supplanted Babe Ruth as baseball’s home run king, his legend and legacy have only grown. Humble and modest to a fault, he always insisted that he didn’t want people to forget Ruth but only to remember Aaron. Though he never had the benefit of playing in the media spotlight of New York or Los Angeles, he remains the career leader in total bases, runs batted in, and All-Star selections; shares records for home runs by brothers, with Tommie Aaron, and by teammates, with Eddie Mathews; and is remembered with respect and admiration for his outspoken advocacy of civil rights for all minorities.

Written by a lifelong Braves fan who became a sportswriter, this book traces Aaron’s odyssey from the segregated south to the baseball world revolutionized by Jackie Robinson, who became an early and important ally against bigotry and prejudice. It reveals how the New York Giants nearly beat the Boston Braves in signing Aaron, when the young slugger caught his first break, and why he changed his hitting style after the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Though he never won a Triple Crown or hit for the cycle, he won virtually every major honor, including an MVP award, a World Series ring, and a berth in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he should have won more, as the author contends he was often taken for granted by voters, nine of whom left him off their Cooperstown ballots.

Turn these pages to find out what home run Aaron considered his greatest, what pitcher proved his easiest mark and what managers he liked or disliked the most. Even the disappointments are included — his team’s move south, its inability to establish a dynasty, and his quest to become a manager, general manager or even commissioner of baseball. This is also a book of personal tragedy: the death of a child, a difficult divorce and the stunning loss of the 43-year-old brother-in-law who became the first black general management. Not to mention the deluge of hate mail as it became obvious that he was approaching the most cherished record in sports.

Through it all, Aaron kept his composure, preferring to let his bat do the talking. He lacked the notoriety of Willie, Mickey and the Duke, but he just might have been the best player in baseball history. He’s certainly in the conversation.

Former Associated Press sports writer Schlossberg has written or co-authored 40 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark and Milo Hamilton. A national baseball writer for, he also writes for Memories and Dreams, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly and Here’s The Pitch, a newsletter for which he edits weekend editions. The 1969 Syracuse University graduate is co-founder of the North American Travel Journalists Association and served as its president for 15 years. He also hosts two travel radio shows, including the popular podcast “Travel Itch Radio.” His 1980 hardcover book, “The Baseball Catalog,” was a 1980 Book of the Month Club alternate and has had more than a dozen updates. Dan lives in suburban Fair Lawn, which he says is close enough to enjoy New York City but far enough away not to be bothered by it.