Hank Aaron On Players Skipping All Star Game: “I feel like these players should deem it’s a privilege.”

July 13, 2011 – 7:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

It’s always refreshing to hear the superstars of yesteryear wax poetic about their time in the spotlight. OK, maybe not all the time; certain old-timers in particular can be annoying in their rants. But when Hank Aaron has something to say, it’s always welcomed. Once again, the man comes through with a good point when it comes to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. The reason, of course, that Aaron was asked about the subject was the fact that Derek Jeter decided to not attend Tuesday night’s ASG in Phoenix just a few short days removed from reaching the 3,000 hit milestone.

Aaron reminisces about what an honor it was for players to be selected for the game back in his day. He went to 23 All-Star Games, so he certainly is qualified to speak on the subject. And he remembers the effort players made to at least attend the ballgame. If guys were injured or pitchers needed rest, they sat out the game itself, but at least showed up at the park and gave fans a reason to cheer.

While his tales can’t change anything this year, we have to hope that at least a few guys in the big leagues are listening at this point. I mean, I’d like to hang out with Minka Kelly for the day as well, but if I were voted into the All-Star Game — I know, all of this is in my dreams — at least I’d find a way to do it wherever the All-Star Game was taking place.

Hank Aaron joined KDUS in Phoenix with Chuck Powell and Vince Marotta to discuss players bailing on the All-Star Game, if he’d considering addressing the current players about the subject and why it’s important to give back to the fans, players in his day showing up for the game even if they couldn’t participate, his home run derby moments, if baseball is over steroids at this point, and what one thing he would do to change the game if he could.

What are your thoughts on players deciding not to show up for the All-Star Game:

“There is a commitment I think that players have. At least it ought to seem like it’s a commitment. It is a game that belongs [to the fan]. I was privileged to play in 23 [All-Star Games] in the first one as much as I was the 23rd one. So I feel like these players should deem it’s a privilege. It’s their game; it belongs to them. And it’s a privilege when you can go out there when you can stand next to stars that you performed against and with. … Sometimes I think that some of the players take for granted that these things are going to go on forever.”

If you were asked to address players about that, would you?:

“I would be willing to speak and tell them the importance of this game … sure I would. It matters to me that baseball keeps going in the direction that it’s going in and I think that the All-Star Game is one part of baseball that we need to keep improving on. … The only way you’re going to improve upon them is if these guys are going to take out of their busy schedules and come here in play in these games.”

What about the pitchers these days not being allowed to pitch in the game if they pitch on the Sunday before it?:

“I don’t know so much about that. … But I do know one thing, if he pitched in the game on Sunday but was nominated to come to the game, he would come here just to show his face. … The fans appreciated when his name was called and he walked or ran out on the field.”

Compare and contrast the old home run derby TV show to the one on Monday night:

“We did ours, that was a home run derby that was done in Los Angeles … and we had a home run derby among players. No people were in the stands, there was no fan participation, it was just someone throwing a baseball from the pitcher’s mound and the player who hit the most home runs won the most money. I was just telling the Commissioner last night, I said, ‘I won the most money on that show because I felt like being from Milwaukee, Wis., that I certainly was not going to get a second chance to compete with guys from New York.”

Do you feel we are past the problem of steroids?:

“I think we are. I think the Commissioner has done one marvelous job of cleaning up the sport. … I think baseball is slowly beginning to get back where you have to play on your ability rather than playing on someone else’s. I’m happy the way these kids are playing today.”

If you could change one thing to make the game better what would it be?:

“I would try to shorten it up a little bit. I still don’t know how you can do that. … If you look at it, most clubs tell a pitcher, ‘Give me five innings. I’ve got a middle reliever, I’ve got short relief and then I’ve got somebody who can get three guys out.’ I mean, it’s just on and on and on. They take a lot of time. I would try to do something to shorten the life of a game.”

Listen to Hank Aaron on KDUS in Phoenix here

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