The legacy of baseball great, Hank Aaron
Henry “Hank” Aaron, one of North America’s greatest athletes, passed away on January 22 at the age of 86.
Hank Aaron was an individual and a trailblazer in the sport of baseball. He set the precedent of consistency and fought racial injustices throughout his entire career. American athletics would not be what it is today without men like Hank.
Aaron is known notoriously throughout the baseball community as a top tier athlete, the cream of the crop, but for those unaware of his status amongst the best, his sheer dominance may surprise you.
Let’s put Hammerin’ Hank’s career into perspective. Babe Ruth—often referred to as the Sultan of Swat, The Great Bambino, The Caliph of Clout—hit 714 home runs over his 22 seasons. Aaron hit 41 more all while having started his career one year after Ruth.
Tom Brady—known throughout football as the greatest of all time—has 14 Pro-Bowl appearances. Hank Aaron went to the All-Star game 25 times—and never once deflated a baseball.
Aaron leads all of Major League Baseball in runs batted in (RBIs) with a staggering 2297. He is miles ahead of any current player and barely within reach of former baseball legends.
It’s an unobjectible fact that Aaron is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Chiseled into the halls of Cooperstown, NY, Aaron rests easy amongst the Mount Rushmore of baseball legends.
Aaron was a different breed of ballplayer, resembling not those who came before or after him, but instead a man who played the game his way. He was the staple of consistency. He missed only two All-Star games throughout his 23 seasons.
On April 8th, 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record as the home run king of baseball. However, during the summer of 1973, Aaron’s mailbox had been flooded with hate mail and death threats from die-hard baseball fans.
Aaron was afraid for his life along with the wellbeing of his family. Fans were not happy to see an African American man on the verge of breaking one of baseball’s most cherished records.
To this day, Vin Scully’s call of Aaron’s 715th home run will give you chills. “A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” he said. As he rounded the bases, two caucasion college students ran alongside him on the field in congratulations.
Aaron would go on to hit 40 more home runs during the final seasons of his career, further cementing him as one of baseball’s greatest heroes. Although Aaron now lies in second place in career home run statistics behind notorious juice-head Barry Bonds, many still consider him to lead the category.
Hank Aaron was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 with 97.8 per cent of the votes—a first ballot induction. “A man’s ability is limited only by his lack of opportunity,” said Aaron during his induction speech, thanking Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella—two of the men integral in breaking baseball’s colour barrier.
Alongside fellow baseball great Frank Robinson, Hank “Hammer” Aaron was inrishined within the walls of Cooperstown, immortal amongst his peers, ever present to his fans.
Baseball would not be the sport it is today without men like Henry Aaron. He was a trailblazer for other African American athletes with the skill and talent to make it into the major leagues. He was, and always will be, one of baseball’s greatest heroes.
Aaron lives on through his wife Billye and his six children: —Gaile, Lary, Dorinda, Gary, Hank Jr. and Ceci.