The crowd came to a grainy, faded photograph of a husky 16-year-old with a wisp of fear on his face.
Nicknamed "Pork Chops," the kid was standing at the train station in Mobile, Ala., in 1952 just about to leave home.
"Why did they call you Pork Chops?" a little girl asked from the outskirts of the crowd.
"Because that was the only thing I knew to order off the menu," Hank Aaron said with a smile.
Trailed by a swarm of fans and reporters, the home run king toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday, drinking in the sights and sounds of a unique era in American history, a period that was starting to come to an end just as Pork Chops was leaving home.
For Aaron, who played briefly with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues before joining the Milwaukee Braves, it proved a nostalgic journey.
"It's amazing. I think they've done a wonderful job," he said. "When you go through it, it brings back a lot of things. I was kind of reminiscing."
He paused for several minutes in front of the blowup of the picture of himself. The plaque explained that "Pork Chops" went on to break Babe Ruth's major league home run record in 1974 and still holds the all-time record with 755.
"There are a lot of things in that museum I can identify with," Aaron said. "I guess the thing that you feel excited about when you go through the museum and you start looking at things, you start seeing what part baseball did play in our society."
Man. United: No FA Cup
Manchester United's chances of defending the FA Cup were all but erased yesterday when Manager Alex Ferguson confirmed it would skip the domestic competition.
United accepted an exemption from the FA Cup last month in order to compete in the inaugural World Club Championship in Brazil this January. There had speculation the team would play both events or skip the FIFA-backed World Club tournament to defend the FA Cup.
Ferguson mourned the chance to defend the Cup, but told BBC Radio it wouldn't be possible to compete in both competitions.
The FA and the British Government supported the team's decision to compete in the World Club Championship because it bolstered England's World Cup 2006 bid. . . .
Promoters of United's two-match Australian soccer tour have dropped a threat to fine the European champion half its $2.6 million fee if injured star David Beckham and Ferguson stay home.
Rivkin Entertainment made the threat midweek, claiming the tour contract was based on the star midfielder and coach being present. After negotiations yesterday, the company sent issued a press release acknowledging Ferguson would not attend.
False Starts Foil Capel
Florida track star John Capel was late out of the blocks and unable to catch Brazil's Andre Domingos Da Silva yesterday in the 100-meter final at the University Games in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Capel, in his first competition outside the United States, was rattled by three false starts. On the final one, he ran alone in his lane for 50 meters, before walking slowly back to the start.
"The only way I can run well is if I start well. No excuses, but the false starts kind of got to me," said Capel, who won the NCAA title in the 200 meters last month in 19.87 seconds, the second-fastest time in the world in 1999. "I knew I had to keep my poise, but I just couldn't."
Da Silva won with a time of 10.34 seconds. Capel finished second at 10.35 and South Africa's Matthew Quinn took the bronze in 10.42. A strong headwind contributed to the relatively slow times--Capel's best is 10.03.
"This is the slowest I've run all year," Capel said. "I was thinking this was going to be a cakewalk. I wasn't on my game."
American Angela Williams won the women's 100-meter final in 11.19 seconds, holding off Katia Benth of France. Benth was second in 11.25, with Cuba's Virgen Benavides third at 11.32.
Title for Camacho Jr.
Hector Camacho Jr. claimed the vacant WBA-North American super lightweight title Saturday night with a ninth-round TKO of Miguel Angel Ruiz in Elgin, Ill. Camacho, of Puerto Rico, improved to 22-0 as a professional; Ruiz fell to 21-6-1.
CAPTION: Hank Aaron poses with statue of Kansas City Monarchs great Satchel Paige.