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Hear from Hank: HOFer talks Freeman, Snitker 

Braves legend honored with street dedication at CoolToday Park
@mlbbowman
February 18, 2020

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Hank Aaron was at the Braves’ new Spring Training complex on Tuesday morning, when the club honored him with the dedication of Hank Aaron Way, a street that leads into CoolToday Park’s main parking lot.

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Hank Aaron was at the Braves’ new Spring Training complex on Tuesday morning, when the club honored him with the dedication of Hank Aaron Way, a street that leads into CoolToday Park’s main parking lot.

Aaron spoke to the Braves team before their workout and then found himself surrounded by the players who were present for the dedication. The legendary Hall of Famer took time after the ceremony to talk to MLB.com about a variety of topics, including Ronald Acuña Jr., Freedie Freeman and his long friendship with Atlanta manager Brian Snitker.

MLB.com: You recently celebrated your 86th birthday. How are you feeling?

Aaron: A little bit weaker every now and then. No, seriously, I feel good.

MLB.com: How do you keep yourself busy?

Aaron: I do most everything I’m called on to do. I’m happy to see baseball back again. I’m happy to see the Braves are probably going to be in the thick of things. I hope we can carry it on to the World Series.

MLB.com: How much baseball do you still watch and how has the game changed?

Aaron: I do get a kick out of watching. Baseball has improved in certain areas. Let me just put it this way: a few years ago, when I first started to play, it was the owners who owned the ballclub. Now, it’s the players that own the ballclub. That is what baseball is all about. If you talk to people who come out to a baseball game, they don’t come out to see the owners play. They come out to see the players play. That’s the most important thing.

MLB.com: Do you think last year’s disappointing conclusion could prove beneficial in the Braves’ bid to go farther than they have after winning the National League East both of the past two seasons?

Aaron: I think most people who watch the game will be in for a surprise, because we’ve got some young kids that have had some years’ experience. I think they’re going to show they belong in the big leagues. I think things are just going to work out fine for the Braves.

MLB.com: What have you thought about Acuña as you’ve watched him over the past couple seasons?

Aaron: I’ve seen quite a bit of him in certain areas. There’s [ways] he can improve. But he is a terrific ballplayer. I think if things work out the way that they should, I think he’ll be even more terrific.

MLB.com: Is there a specific area where he can improve?

Aaron: I think all around.

MLB.com: Could it just be a matter of going from 21 to 22 years old?

Aaron: As soon as he realizes he’s not up there to play and to jive, but that it is a job, I think the sooner [he does that], the better.

MLB.com: Who is it you enjoy watching from throughout the league?

Aaron: [Freddie] Freeman.

MLB.com: What is it you like most about Freeman’s game?

Aaron: What you see today is what you’re going to get tomorrow. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He plays it very hard. He doesn’t take anything for granted. I kind of like the way he approaches everything.

MLB.com: When you think about Atlanta Braves legends, you have yourself, Phil Niekro, Dale Murphy, Chipper Jones and the Cy Young trio from the ‘90s. Is Freddie close to joining that club?

Aaron: I think he’s already in that category. He’s played well. He’s done well and carried himself about as well as you can. I think he has done exceptionally well.

MLB.com: When you ran the Braves’ Minor League operations, you informed Brian Snitker his playing days were done and immediately placed him in the coaching profession. What did you see in him when this decision was made in 1980?

Aaron: I always looked at Brian Snitker as being someone that if you tell him to do something, he’d go do it. You tell him to do it and he’d do it right. He’s always been someone I’ve admired and cared for. He’s just been someone who most of the players who have played for him have liked him.

MLB.com: How proud are you of the success he has had since becoming Atlanta’s manager?

Aaron: I think the world of him. I love him. I think he’s a terrific baseball-minded person. He’s done great. I just like the way he carries himself. He’s been with the team for a long, long time and you never hear him [complain] about anything. Wherever he was sent somewhere, he’s just done what he’s supposed to do.

MLB.com: What did you think about the Braves honoring you with the dedication of Hank Aaron Way?

Aaron: It was wonderful. I appreciate everything the Braves have done for me. They’ve bent over backwards to make things as pleasant as can be.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.