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Surveying his new-old surroundings before the game, Aaron said, "There isn't a player on this team who was around the year we won the World Series. But this is a good young team. I just want to help them win. I'll be able to play more this year, maybe 150 games. I could hit 30-35 home runs if I do. With that bat I'm as young as anybody."
Aaron is not as young as he was, however. In 17 spring training games he batted .226 and, during the season's first two games in Boston, he was the only regular to go hitless. "It takes me longer to get prepared," he said. "I know what I can do. In Boston all I saw was slow stuff. I like the high strike zone the American League has, but I don't think the pitchers throw as hard."
On the field the press pressed in. Yes, said Aaron yet again, he was glad to be back. Yes, Milwaukee is a great town. After the crowd had sung its welcome he walked out of the dugout to a standing ovation that lasted almost two minutes. "It was a great feeling, a great feeling," he said later. "Something I'll always remember." From home plate he told the crowd, "I've always felt a special place in my heart for Milwaukee. I hope we can write a new chapter in the hearts of so many wonderful fans."
Nice, but not the kind of drama his bat has provided so often in the past. That opportunity came with his turn at bat in the first inning. Indian Pitcher Jim Perry kept his sliders low, however, and Aaron could do no better than walk.
Two innings later he came up again, with nobody out and men on first and third. He asked Manager Del Crandall if he should try a sacrifice bunt, but Crandall told him to swing away. He did, hitting a ground ball to short which forced the runner at second but allowed the man on third to score. Moments later Aaron was retired himself, when Crandall ordered a steal that was as unsuccessful as it was unexpected.
Before batting in the sixth inning, Aaron went into the clubhouse to warm up, returning in time to see John Briggs lead off with a home run. Then he stirred the crowd with a long foul before ripping a line-drive hit off Third Baseman Buddy Bell's glove. The crowd roared—as if, Aaron noted later, "I'd hit a grand slam."
He grounded out in the seventh, finishing one for three. "I felt good," he concluded, "the best I've felt yet. I just hope all the excitement is over now so I can play baseball."