Baseball Hall of Famer Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron Dies at 86

Hank Aaron
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Hall of Fame legend and one-time MLB home run king Henry “Hank” Aaron, has died at the age of 86, according to CBS46 in Atlanta.

As CBS46 reports:

Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934, the son of Herbert and Estella Aaron. He played in sandlots and started his pro career in the Negro Leagues in 1951. He made his way through the minor leagues until age 20. Aaron then made his Major League Debut and started his 23-year-career with the then-Milwaukee Braves.

He recorded his first of 755 home runs on April 23, 1954 in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. His first season saw him finish fourth in the rookie of the year voting as he hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBIs. It was just the start of what became one of the most legendary careers in baseball history.

By the time he was in just his fourth season, he hit 44 home runs, drove in 132 RBIs and won the National League MVP award. The 1957 season started a lengthy run that saw Aaron hit at least 25 home runs in every season until 1973. During this time, Aaron and the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta where Aaron became a living legend on the field.

On April 8, 1974, Aaron hit the home run that broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully described the moment from a historical perspective.

“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world,” Scully said. “A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron …”

Aaron received a large amount of racist hate mail as he approached Ruth’s record.

According to CBS46:

Aaron remains baseball’s runs batted in leader with 2,297 and total base leader with 6,856. Hammerin’ Hank finished his career with 755 home runs, an all-time record that stood for decades until Barry Bonds passed him and finished with 762 home runs. His #44 jersey was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.

On August 1, 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking the home run record, Major League Baseball established the Hank Aaron Award that is given to the best overall hitter in each league. He later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and was inducted as a Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society in 2010. In 2016, Aaron was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors for his work with the World Children’s Baseball Fair.

In 1999, MLB created the Hank Aaron Award, an annual award bestowed on the best offensive player in each league.

Aaron is survived by his wife, Billye, and five children, Gaile, Hank Jr, Lary, Dorinda and Ceci.

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