Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron thinks President Barack Obama's Republican detractors aren't too far off from the individuals who threatened him as he approached Babe Ruth's home run record forty years ago.
In an interview with USA Today published Tuesday, Aaron described the racist letters he received as he closed in on Ruth's milestone. Four decades later, Aaron says he still keeps the letters in his attic to remind himself of the United States' persistent racism.
"We are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record," he said. "If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There's not a whole lot that has changed."
Aaron pointed to Republicans' obstruction of Obama as one area where not much progress has been made.
"Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated," he said. "The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts."
Aaron, who is now 80, made history on April 8, 1974 when he hit his 715th home run, breaking Ruth's all-time record. Aaron ended his career with 755 homers, which stood as the record until Barry Bonds hit his 756th in 2007. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
In 2012, Aaron endorsed Obama in his reelection bid, urging Wisconsin voters to help the president "hit a grand slam."
(h/t CBS Atlanta)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Hank Aaron was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. He was inducted in 1982.