The baseball hero overcame defining odds as one of the most prolific athletes over the last century.
By Charise Frazier, NewsOne
Major League Baseball hero Hank Aaron died on Friday at the age of 86. The Hall of Famer shattered barriers and records, becoming one of the most prolific baseball players in history.
His cause of death is unknown but was confirmed by his daughter, according to WSBV-TV.
We are devastated by the passing of Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, one of the greatest players and people in the history of our game. He was 86. pic.twitter.com/bCvLOydGBZ
— MLB (@MLB) January 22, 2021
In 1974 as a member of the Atlanta Braves he made history, shattering the long-standing home run record held by Babe Ruth. Aaron struck a pitch dolled out by Los Angeles Dodgers Al Downing leading Aaron to break Ruth’s record of 714 home runs. The moment solidified his place in baseball history and further affirmed why he was affectionately called “Hammerin’ Hank.”
Here’s Hank Aaron hugging his mom at home plate after breaking Babe Ruth’s homer record. Vin Scully on the call. RIP king. pic.twitter.com/pGYF51L9dO
— d. patrick rodgers (@dpatrickrodgers) January 22, 2021
Off the diamond he was known as a champion of civil rights and recently stood with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick during his protest of the National Anthem. Muhammad Ali once said he idolized Aaron “more than myself.”
Born in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 5, 1934 during the Great Depression, Henry Louis Aaron was one of eight children born to Herbert and Estella Aaron.
At the age of 15 he tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After the team decided to pass on Aaron he instead opted to return to school to finish his primary education. His return to baseball was made two years later when he was drafted to play for the negro leagues’ Indianapolis Clown’s organization at 17. Three years later he made his Major League debut as with the then-Milwaukee Braves, where he built his career for 23 years before being traded to the Atlanta Braves.
Aaron still holds a series of records, he remains baseball’s runs batted in leader with 2,297 and total base leader with 6,856. He retired from baseball in 1976 with 755 home runs, which stood until 2007 when Barry Bonds broke his record.
Both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers retired Aaron’s #44 jersey in tribute. In 1982 Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For his contributions to baseball Aaron was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by former President George W. Bush. He was also inducted as a Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society in 2010.
Hank Aaron receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. RIP. pic.twitter.com/lKalQQ3bpU
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 22, 2021
Across social media baseball fans and those who held Aaron in deep esteem shared their condolences over the loss.
— Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) January 22, 2021
We will miss you.
Your leadership. Your grace.
Your generosity. Your love.
Thank you, #HankAaron.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 22, 2021
— NAACP (@NAACP) January 22, 2021
This article originally appeared on NewsOne.
A STATEMENT BY REV. JESSE L. JACKSON, SR. ON DEATH OF LEGENDARY HANK AARON
Friday, January 22, 2021
Hank Aaron died peacefully last night at his home in Atlanta at age 86. There were many great black and white baseball players in the Major Leagues – e.g., Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente – but Hank Aaron, who hit 755 career homers and broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714, is considered by many as the best of them all.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, his mother gave him all she could when he
left home ($2.15) to play professional baseball and told him to watch over it carefully and spend it wisely.
When Hank came into Major League Baseball in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves after playing for the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro League, he helped carry the dignified mantle set by Jackie Robinson in 1947 of being a role model on and off the field.
He made an instant impact in Milwaukee and then embraced the City of Atlanta as his hometown after the team moved there in 1966. Although he was terrorized, scrutinized and criticized for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record, he neither fought back nor allowed the attacks against him to stop him from playing like a champion and living off the field with integrity.
After he retired from baseball, he poured his heart into business and the City of Atlanta as a philanthropist providing scholarships to young people, advising young black baseball players signed to professional contracts in the Atlanta area on how to conduct themselves on and off the field and manage their money.
He created jobs for many employees and business opportunities and support throughout the region. Hank and his wife opened car dealerships, restaurants, convenience stores, and served as a silent partner for numerous other ventures that would enhance his community for the greater good.
I will always be grateful for our friendship. His support of our organization and me has fueled our work and helped us Keep Hope Alive for over 40 years.
The ultimate Home Run King, Hank would often remind us to “Keep Swinging.” He said, “My motto in life was to ‘Keep Swinging,’ whether I was in a slump on the field, feeling bad or having trouble off the field – JUST ‘KEEP SWINGING’.”
I will miss you my friend, but you inspired me to KEEP SWINGING.
Rest in Power & Peace,
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson