As a player, Henry Aaron logged countless miles, legwise and vehiclewise, and lasted 23 major league years, setting records of almost any "most" you can name. After one year as a baseball executive - that many have been a "mild" heart attack that landed him in the hospital this week - listen to same Aaron:
"I'm overexhausted . . . I've been traveling too much. I've had too much responsibility."
Aaron blamed a hectic travel schedule as director of player development for the Atlanta Braves. He said he was driving his son Larry to the bus station when, "I felt a pain in my legs, and it moved up into my chest."
He spoke as his physician in Atlanta issued word, "He isn't suffering any more chest pains. He's doing fine." But, qualified Aaron, "they're still checking."
The home-run Hammer reckoned he'll have to slow down from here on. Feb. 5 is his 44th birthday . . .
Meanwhile, Sadaharu Oh, who kept Aaron's name in the public eye much of 1977 with his pursuit and eclipse of Hank's total of 755 homers, at 37 has signed for another season with the Yomiuri Giants: 75 million yen ($312,000), it's said . . .
Money? Chris Evert earned a women's record $503,134 for the 1977 tennis season, USTA announced yesterday - coincidentally with Associated Press naming Evert female athlete of the year, an honor she also captured for 1974 and '75.
In the AP athlete vote, Evert drew 110 nods to 43 for runner-up Wade, with tennis teensy Tracy Austin beating out golf's Judy Rankin for third . . . And the football honors keep coming: NFL most valuable player, Associated press: Walter Payton, 57 of the 84 votes. NFL defensive player of the year. AP: Dallas' Harvey Martin, edging Lyle Alzado, 27-25, which makes for a nice Super Bowl argument. In regular season, the score was Martin 23 sacks, the whole Bronco defensive unit 35 sacks. Modest Martin credits the maturation of Randy White alongside him in the Cowboy front with easing his way . . . NFC rookie of the year. UPI: Tony Dorsett, 56 of 56 votes . . . Well, lookie here, a Redskin All-Pro at last: Sporting News says Jtan Fugett is the NFC's premier tight end to line up with seven Rams, six Cowpokes, etc. on the 25-man squad . . .
Another baseball revelation: Bob Howsam, president of the Cincinnati Reds, reportedly tossed that $1.75 million for Vida Blue into Charlie Finley's eager grasp to swing the balance on the Oakland A's sale to Denver. Seems Colorado oilman Marvin Davis held firm on an offer of $12 million, Finley on a price of $13.5 million - until Howsam, who began his baseball career in Denver (was general manager of the Denver Bears when they set the alltime minor league attendance record of 463,000) and is an acquaintance of Davis, intervened with his package offer of cash and minor league slugger Dave Revering for lefthanded ace Blue. Bowie Kuhn disapproved of the hugh cash flow and at a Jan. 17 hearing (twice postponed) is likely to modify the deal by having Cincinnati send Oakland/Denver more players instead . . .
Red Auerbach, on hiring K.C. Jones as assistant coach: "He's a Celtic, one of my boys . . . knows the game, he's defense-oriented. Above all, he's a great guy and everybody respects him." Terms? "He was just hired, that's all" . . . Only three seasons ago, Jones' peak as Bullet coach crumbled in that 4-0 NBA final sweep by Golden State - which yesterday cut a starter on those champion Warriors, guard Charlie Johnson. Coach Al Attles said, "The two most difficult things I've had to do as coach were to trade Nate Thurmond and now to let C.J. go" . . . Slick Watts, the SuperSonic folk hero relegated to the bench when Lenny Wilkens took over as coach a few weeks ago, is "not disappointed or nothing" about the deal that has him in New Orleans. The Jazz hope he can regain his 1975-76 form when he led the NBA in assists and steals - he was second and third last year, before the sudden drop from favor this term. Someone reminded Watts of what he said two years ago: "God picked it out just for me. He said, 'Slick, I got this little heaven for you. I call it Seattle.' If they ever trade me, I retire." Now? "I just wish I could take Seattle with me" . . .
Sid Gillman, 66, on why he's quit as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator: "The calling of the game plan was turned over to somebody else, and it didn't quite fit" Gillman says he was reduced to relaying plays selected in the press box by offensive backfield coach Fred O'Connor - and "I don't believe a coach with three or four years of experience in pro football is equipped to control an offense." Furthermore, Gillman doesn't see the National Conference about to shed its conservative offensive posture "and I don't know why. The American Conference teams are more flexible. They move the ball much more readily . . . "