I remember the 1974 Atlanta team, at least some of them. Phil Neikro was the knuckle-balling ace. Ralph Garr, Dusty Baker and Hank Aaron were in the outfield. Darrell Evans played 3rd, Davey Johnson was at 2nd, and Johnny Oates was the catcher.
I remember all the hype during Hank Aaron's chase to break Babe Ruth's home run record. He fell one home run short in the 1973 season, so much was made of his debut at the beginning of the '74 season. He tied Ruth at 714 on April 4 off of Jack Billingham of the Reds. For some reason we were out of school that day and I was thrilled because I got to see it live. A few days later, April 8, he hit #715 off of the Dodgers' Al Downing.
I wasn't quite 10 years old so I had no idea people were sending Hank hate mail because of his color. All I knew was that a player from my favorite team was going to break the greatest record in all of sports. What did I care about his skin color?
I'm sure Barry Bonds receives hate mail these days, but I doubt that it has anything to do with the color of his skin. Maybe it's because of the steroids issue. Maybe it's because he's about to break a hallowed record. Or maybe it's because he's perceived to be such a huge jerk. I'd have to go with the latter.
I really loved baseball back then. Athletes performed but didn't need to draw attention to themselves. They let their play on the field do the talking. And they played without the aid of "enhancements".
Bonds may end his career with more home runs than anyone else. But there will always be an asterisk beside whatever number he ends up posting.....