America’s National Pastime has played a huge role in the formation of the nation and its culture.
As a result of this, only the best baseball players can enter and then work their way through the league with their team. You can checkout MLB odds for current stats.
One of the standout players in the MLB is Hank Aaron.
Hank Aaron, or “Hammer,” remains one of the greatest and most highly acclaimed baseball players in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. Notably, he was equally an ambassador for baseball as he was for racial equality, something that he is immortalized for.
He also accomplished far more in his lifetime than many other baseball players. Read on to learn more.
Early Minor League Career
Aaron had seven siblings and grew up loving baseball. Along with his brother lui, renowned MLB player Tommie Aaron, he’d go on to find major success in the MLB playing as a baseball right fielder for an impressive 23 seasons.
Aaron was just 13 years old when Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947. He attended a speech given by Robinson that following year which inspired his pursuit of professional baseball.
Five years later, he joined the Indianapolis Clowns for a single season, leading them to the 1952 Negro League World Series title.
Milwaukee Braves ML
In 1952, after this win, the Milwaukee Braves purchased his contract from the Indianapolis Clowns for $10,000. He immediately proved himself and, playing in the infield, was able to develop his skills as a ballplayer.
He had such a stellar performance that he was quickly promoted to Rookie of the Year, with an impressive .336 batting average. Despite his success, Aaron received a lot of racism while playing in the minor leagues.
In 1953, Aaron broke the color barrier with a promotion to the Jacksonville Braves of the South Atlantic League. The Braves won the league championship that year, fueled by Aaron’s skilled performance from him.
It was one of the first-ever integrated baseball teams, and Aaron continued to face problems — especially since he was one of the first African American players to appear in the league.
Prime of his Career
Aaron made his official Major League debut with the Braves in April 1954 and, after making waves and impressing with his natural ability, was signed not too long after.
He achieved many incredible things in his time with the Braves including (but not limited to) the following accolades:
- 21 All-Star selections
- 25 All-Star game appearances
- The Sporting NewsNL Player of the Year
- NL MVP (1957) – the year the Milwaukee Braves clinched the World Series
- 3 Gold Glove Awards (1958-1960)
In 1968, Aaron was the first-ever Braves player to hit a 500th career home run. Just two years later, he became the first Atlanta Brave to also reach 3,000 total career hits.
Eclipsing Babe Ruth
Throughout 1973 and into the 1974 season, Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs record caused some controversy.
He tied Babe Ruth’s record on April 4, 1974, in his first at-bat during his first swing of the season, but did not manage to achieve another home run in the series. Aaron toppled Ruth’s long-standing record just a few days later on April 9, 1974, and would maintain his status as a career leader for over three decades.
Milwaukee Brewers (American League)
At the end of the 1974 season, Aaron requested a trade to Milwaukee. Just thirty days later, he had signed a two-year contract with the Brewers – allowing him to play as a designated hitter in games instead of simply playing in the field.
Aaron hit his 755th and final home run on July 20, 1976, and played his final game in October of that same year.
After the 1976 season, Aaron became an executive with the Braves. He’d later be named Braves’ vice president and the director of player development.
In August 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his incredible playing efficiency and legacy. This occurred during his first year of eligibility
He was also named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999 for his effective hitting. During his 65th birthday celebration, Major League Baseball announced the Hank Aaron Award which honors the greatest offensive performer in the National and American League.
Hank Aaron passed away peacefully in his sleep in January 2021 aged 86, leaving behind a legacy that was far greater than the sport of baseball.
His illustrious 23-year MLB career ended with impeccable statistics, including 755 home runs, 624 doubles, 2,174 runs, 2,297 RBI, 3,771 hits, and an estimated 240 stolen bases.
Today, Aaron still holds MLB records for the most extra-base hits (1,477), total bases (6,856), and career runs batted in (2,297).
Aaron’s consistent excellence on the field established him as an unparalleled baseball legend, sure. Still, it was his civil rights activism of lui —which occurred during a time of racial tension and deep unrest and carried on long after he left the game—that will be remembered as his greatest accomplishment of lui.