The world is mourning the loss of baseball icon Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron. Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career record for the most home runs and shattered racial barriers as well during his life. According to Syracuse.com:
Hank Aaron died Friday morning, but did not disclose a cause of death. Aaron’s daughter confirmed his death to WSB-TV.
Aaron made headlines just two weeks ago when he received the Covid-19 vaccine in Georgia, hoping to encourage Black Americans to get the shots to protect against coronavirus.
Nicknamed “Hammering” Hank, Aaron’s batting power was just one weapon in his awesome arsenal. According to TMZ Sports:
Aaron made his MLB debut when he was only 20 — launching a 23-year career that would go down in the record books. He retired from playing in 1976 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1982. He’s also in the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame and the team retired his #44 uniform.
Aaron’s accomplishments were many, with Syracuse.com noting:
Aaron won the World Series in 1957, won the Golden Glove award three times, and still remains the RBI leader and total base leader with 2,297 and 6,856, respectively. He was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1982.
Aaron is best-remembered for breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 home runs. Aaron’s quest for baseball immortality saw him endure hate mail from supposed baseball loyalists who couldn’t condone someone breaking Babe Ruth’s record, and more importantly, an African”-American man.
A Washington Post obituary on Aaron details the ordeal he faced off the diamond as he closed in on Ruth’s record:
A security team accompanied Mr. Aaron at all times, his daughter received police protection while attending college, and the FBI looked into some of the more extreme threats. Mr. Aaron kept the letters as a reminder of his lonely, dangerous pursuit.
“The Ruth chase should have been the greatest period of my life, and it was the worst,” Mr. Aaron wrote in his 1991 autobiography, “I Had a Hammer.” “I couldn’t believe there was so much hatred in people. It’s something I’m still trying to get over, and maybe I never will.”
“Hammering” Hank Aaron defied the haters and broke the record, amassing 755 home runs before retiring. Aaron’s record would hold until Barry Bonds broke it, but some fans see Bonds’ achievement as dubious considering the allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
During his career, Hank Aaron played for the Braves, both during their time in Milwaukee and later when the team relocated to Atlanta in the 1960s. During his major league career, Aaron played on 25 All-Star teams, just one of a plethora of honors.
Hank Aaron was known for his incredible accomplishments in baseball as well as off the field as a civil rights advocate. Aaron’s efforts to fight racism were repeatedly honored in his life, with the National Park Service mentioning just some of them:
In 2002, President George W. Bush awarded Aaron the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his philanthropy and humanitarian endeavors. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund awarded him the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005; the organization also established the Hank Aaron Humanitarian in Sports Award.
Pro Sports Extra extends its condolences to Mr. Aaron’s friends, family, and millions of fans.