On Sunday I thought a long while about an athlete I’d never met, never saw play and never read a book about. His name is Henry Louis Aaron and he died last week. He played baseball which I don’t follow and hit multiple home runs but I couldn’t tell you without looking up how many.

But I know about the letters Aaron got in the early 1970s. Letters in the thousands – “3,000 a day”, ESPN once wrote – of which many were ugly and threatening. Letters received when he, a black man, was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. Letters which he kept in a box. Letters like this:

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