Hank Aaron, Hall of Fame Baseball Legend, Dead at 86

by Gina Williams

January 22, 2021

A kid from Alabama who couldn’t afford the equipment to play the game he loved became a legend in that game — with records to prove it. Legendary Atlanta Brave and Major League Baseball record holder Hank Aaron died on Friday, according to Aaron’s daughter. He was 86.

Known as “Hammerin’ Hank,” the Hall of Famer was widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. In 1973, he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record with Aaron’s 715th home run.

His mother, shown below, was one of the first fans to congratulate her son.

Hank Aaron’s mother gives her favorite home hitter a hug after Hammerin’ Hank made Babe Ruth an also-ran. Catching a pitch by Dodger Al Downing, Aaron rocketed the ball over the left-center fence for homer number 715. At right is the prized ball, held by Tom House, Braves’ relief pitcher who caught it in the bullpen.

(Original Caption) 4/8/1974-Atlanta, Georgia: Hank Aaron’s mother gives her favorite home hitter a hug after Hammerin’ Hank made Babe Ruth an also-ran. Catching a pitch by Dodger Al Downing, Aaron rocketed the ball over the left-center fence for homer number 715. At right is the prized ball, held by Tom House, Braves’ relief pitcher who caught it in the bullpen.

Last month, Major League Baseball (MLB) finally added the Negro League to its records making the stats from players in the league official in the MLB. While Aaron’s career runs were recorded as 755, his Negro League stats pushed his record to 760, further noting his game’s caliber.

| RELATED STORY: The Negro Leagues are Finally Recognized as a Major League

Michael Harriot, the senior writer for The Root, noted just how great Aaron’s talent and contribution was to the game.

“Before we salute Hank Aaron, remember, last month, @MLB finally added Negro League records to its official stats, meaning Aaron hit 760 home runs, more RBIs, total bases, & all-star games than anyone who ever played baseball,” Michael Harriot, senior writer for The Root, tweeted. “Also, Babe Ruth didn’t play against Black players.”

Three Things to Know About Hank Aaron:

1 – He Didn’t Let Money Stop Him From Pursuing His Dream

Aaron’s love for baseball started at a young age. Born in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron was one of eight children. Coming from a large family with little money, Hank’s family couldn’t afford to pay for baseball equipment. But he didn’t let that stop him from pursuing his love, so he began honing his skills by hitting bottle caps with sticks.

2 – He was Ambitious and Never Gave Up on His Dream

At just 15-years-old, Aaron tried out major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1949. While he didn’t make the team, he continued to chase his dream.

The dream would become fulfilled at 17 when Aaron began his minor league career with the Negro League team Indianapolis Clowns.

After a stellar performance with the Clowns, he’d later sign a deal with The Atlanta Braves in 1952.

In 1954, Aaron would make his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds, a game in which he was hitless in five at-bats.

3 – He Broke Records On and Off the Field

After ending his career with the Atlanta Braves, he’d later become the first African-American to join the major league’s management team.

(Original Caption) This is a waist-up portrait of Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in uniform.

Aaron made remarkable strides in the sport, becoming widely known as one of the best players in history. In July 2002, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 9: U.S. President George W. Bush presents baseball great Hank Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award during a ceremony July 9, 2002 at the White House in Washington, DC. The medal is the highest civilian award given to those who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Rest in power to one of the greatest who’s ever played the game of baseball, Hank Aaron.

 

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