The Marxist Cat and Hammering Hank

About 20 years ago we decided to adopt a new cat. We went to the local animal shelter and found a small black male that was just perfect for us. We brought him home and named him after one of the finest ball players either of us ever saw, Henry Aaron. We called him “Hank.”

He was a great cat. He did all those things that cats do to endear themselves to the inferior creatures that are humans. He purred, played with string, chased assorted bugs and creatures across the back yard, sat on laps. It’s the latter that caused a certain amount of consternation. You see, he was a left-facing cat. If he jumped up on your lap or chest to lay down, he’d turn to face left every time. You could move him to face right and he’d turn back around to the left. It happened every time. If he came up to your lap facing right, he’d turn. If he came up facing left, he’d simply lie down. It quickly got him the nickname of “The Marxist Cat.” We thought he was great although it did concern some of your more right-wing friends. We thought about sending a note to Mr. Aaron telling him about the cat, but never did. Hank died several years ago, but we still remember the “Marxist Cat.” We sang The Internationale over his grave.

I thought of this when Frank Robinson died and when I realized Aaron had made it to his 85 birthday. Robinson’s passing left Hank Aaron as the only great right fielder of my youth still living. I have to admit that I tended to overlook him behind Willie Mays, but when it came to right fielders, Aaron was the man. Robinson was fine and Roberto Clemente was thrilling to watch, but Hank Aaron was special. I remember him for those 1950s Braves teams (the ones in Milwaukee) and also from the later teams in Atlanta. I rooted for him to hit 715 home runs and to run up his RBI total and his hits. It was late before he received the honors he deserved (and MLB still does a terrible job promoting the Hank Aaron Award) so it’s good that he seemed to be a man of great patience.

I’ve had a lot of great baseball players I’ve liked. I began with Jackie Robinson, rolled on to Duke Snider and Sandy Koufax. I thought Mays was great and Yaz and a ton of others, but Aaron is one of the few I genuinely admired. I hope he reads this someday. Maybe he’ll be impressed I named a cat for him, even if it was a Marxist.

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5 Responses to “The Marxist Cat and Hammering Hank”

  1. Miller Says:

    You are just such an entertaining writer. Thanks for this!

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Nice story, V. A Marxist cat!!! Should have named him Groucho, Chico, or Harpo!

    It’s a shame that Henry Aaron is thought of almost exclusively for being the home run king (and, as far as I’m concerned, he’s STILL the home run king), and not thought of about the other things that he did just as well as hitting homers. He was NOT a one-dimensional player by any means. He hit for average, stole a lot of bases, etc. I agree with you.

    Glen

  3. Precious Sanders Says:

    Aw, what an adorable kitty! And what a great story 🙂

  4. wkkortas Says:

    He may have faced left, but cats live to be pampered and, first and foremost, served. If he was a Marxist, he was one of those rich salon Marxists.

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