Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Louis Aaron
Updated: Feb 7
Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Louis Aaron (February 3,1934-January 22, 2021) born in Mobile, Alabama to Herbert and Estella Aaron was one of eight children. Hank developed his baseball skills by hitting bottle caps with sticks. He tried out to for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the age of 15 and unfortunately he didn't make the team so he returned home to finish school. At the age of 17 (1951) Hank began his minor league career with the Negro League team the Indianapolis Clowns. In 1952, he signed with the Boston Braves over the New York Giants because the pay was more, $50 more a month. The same year, at age 21, Hank made his first appearance as an All-Star, eventually setting a record of 25 All-Star appearances.
When the Braves moved to Atlanta, Georgia where many notable civil rights leaders lived, Hanks activism work began. He realized that he had a role to play to help other blacks like himself. He was very good friends with the mayor of Atlanta and former Ambassador Andrew Young and met Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the stands at one of his games.
As Hank's career progressed and got close to breaking Babe Ruth's home run record of 714, racist hate mail and death threats started pouring in. He would often sleep in the ball park as he felt safe in the ball park. Undeterred, Hank did not let hate mail and threats did stop him from using his God given talent and on April 8, 1974, Hank broke Babe Ruth's while playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which was broadcast on national TV. The year the Braves traded (1975) Hank he had hit 733 home runs and broke Babe Ruth's RBI (Runs Batted In) record.
As a Boston Brewer, he hit 22 home runs and hit his last (755th) and final home run in July of 1976. Hank Aaron retired that same year after a 23 year career as the Major League all-time leader in home runs and remains the all-time leader in career RBIs, extra base hits and total bases.
Hank Aaron credited his family, especially his brother and uncle, for supporting his dream. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Hank Aaron once said, “My hope is one day people will judge me by character rather than by the context of my color. And I think when that day comes, that's the day I'm going to say Hallelujah".