Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, the Hall of Fame bully whose 755 home races have long been considered the golden symbol of baseball, has died. He was 86 years old.
“We are absolutely devastated when our beloved Hank died,” said Terry McGuirk, chairman of the Atlanta Braves, in a statement. “He has been a beacon for our organization, first as a player, then in player development and always in our community efforts. His incredible talent and determination have helped him achieve the highest levels of success, but he has never lost his humble nature It wasn’t Henry Louis Aaron. ” Not just our icon, but one in Major League Baseball and around the world. His success in the diamond was only matched by his business successes outside of the field and limited by his exceptional philanthropic endeavors.
“We’re heartbroken thinking of his wife, Billye, and their children, Gaile, Hank Jr., Lary, Dorinda, and Ceci, and his grandchildren.”
Aaron is one of the big stars in the sport, despite playing Braves for the small Milwaukee / Atlanta market during his major league career from 1954 to 1976. He still holds major league records for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477), and he is one of the best hits (3,771, third all-time), games played (3,298, third ) and runs achieved (2,174, fourth).
But it was Hammerin ‘Hank’s cute homerun swing that he was best known for.
Aaron, a 6-foot-0,180-pounder, broke Babe Ruth’s sacred home run mark in less than a week in the 1974 season, beating his record 715th ahead of left-handed Al Downing of Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning as over 50,000 fans celebrated in Atlanta. As one of baseball’s iconic moments, Aaron trudged around the grassroots – despite being briefly interrupted by two fans including a young Craig Sager – and eventually touched home plate, where teammates pulled him up and his parents hugged him.
Aaron played two more seasons, ending his career with 755 home runs, a mark that was considered a major league record until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007.
Aaron ended his career with numerous awards. He was the National League MVP in 1957 – the same year the Braves won the World Series – a two-time NL batting champion (1956, 59), a three-time gold glove winner in right field (1958-60). and a record 25 times All-Star.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and received a 97.8% approval rating in his first year of election. In 1999 MLB created the Hank Aaron Award, which is given annually to the best batsman in AL and NL.
Off the field, Aaron was a civil rights activist who himself fell victim to racial inequalities. Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama and did not play organized high school baseball because only white students had teams. While preparing for Ruth’s homerun mark, people were threatened by people who didn’t want a black man to break the record.
Upon his retirement, Aaron joined the Braves as an executive, hoping that more black players could find this type of job after their game days were up.
“The Black Super Giants could be on the field,” he once said. “But as soon as our game days are over, this will be the end and we’ll go back to the back of the bus.”
Aaron was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.