A is for Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is still the career leader in total bases, extra base hits, and runs batted in.

AaronHenry1 Henry Louis Aaron, “Hammering Hank,” born February 5, 1934, in Mobile, AL, was, for decades – from 1974 to 2007 – the leading home run hitter in Major League Baseball, with a total of 755. He led the league in homers for four seasons.

His journey to break Babe Ruth’s career home run record he conducted with quiet dignity, despite severe obstacles. He had hit 40 home runs in 1973, ending the season one home run short of the record.

“He was the recipient of death threats during the 1973-1974 offseason and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see Aaron break Ruth’s nearly sacrosanct home run record.”

Aaron is still the career leader in total bases, extra-base hits, and runs batted in. He is also in the top five for career hits and runs.

He played in the All-Star Game every year from 1955 to 1975, won the Golden Glove as best fielder in 1958 to 1960, and was the National League MVP in 1957.

After a brief stint in the Negro Leagues and a short stint in the minor leagues, Hank broke in with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, played with them as they moved to Atlanta in 1966, then spent the last two years of his career back in Milwaukee, with the Brewers.

After the 1976 season, when his days on the field were over, Aaron rejoined the Braves as an executive, in various capacities over the years. In 1982, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, with 97.8% of the vote.

Hank has been a charter member and cheerleader for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which I’ve joined. Read this 2015 story.

Hank had a brother, the late Tommie Aaron, who hit 13 home runs in a much less distinguished career, also with the Braves, making them the all-time brothers’ leader in homers.

Henry Aaron isn’t my favorite baseball player of all time – that will always be Willie Mays – but he’s in the Top 5.

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