Baseball Great Hank Aaron Dies at 86
January 22, 2021 – Henry “Hank” Aaron, whose dramatic pursuit of the Major League circuit record in 1974 made him a baseball legend, died Friday at his home in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Braves, his former team, announced the death of Aaron at age 86. He died in his sleep, the Associated Press reported, and no cause of death was immediately revealed.
Aaron, born in Mobile, AL, during Jim Crow, was last seen in public on January 5, when he and former United Nations Ambassador and Civil Rights Leader Andrew Young and former US Secretary to the Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan together received COVID-19 vaccinations in Atlanta.
Aaron’s greatness didn’t come just on the baseball field, where he set career home runs, runs scored, extra hits and total goals. He also became a symbol of dignity and grace as he battled fierce racism in his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs.
As he neared Ruth’s mark, Aaron was threatened with death by whites who objected to a black man holding such a revered record. But Aaron never showed anger or fear. He just kept hitting home runs.
Aaron’s professional career began in 1951 when he signed at age 17 with the Black League Indianapolis Clowns. The New York Giants and Boston Braves then offered him spots on the roster. While the Giants’ offer was for a higher rated league, Aaron signed with the Braves and the extra $ 50 per month offered by the team.
The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966.
“Honestly, I was afraid to come to a high-profile city like Atlanta,” Aaron told WSB-TV / Channel 2 in a previous interview. “Knowing that Dr. King was here, Andy Young and some of the other great civil rights leaders who made their home here, and I’m from Milwaukee where there was no activity. … It makes you start to think about what it is, what can you do, what role you can play. And makes you feel like you’ve kind of got everyone short, you haven’t done your job.
Aaron knew that Atlanta was becoming the center of the civil rights movement but was unsure of his place in this movement.
“To be honest with you, I was a little ashamed of myself, because I was so far out in the woods, in the woods, that I didn’t know what was going on. It kind of got me thinking, realizing that no matter what I’ve accomplished in life, be it baseball, soccer, basketball, life, lawyers, whatever it is, that I still had a role to play, ”he said. .
Later, after his playing career ended in 1976, Aaron became an executive with the Braves and a community icon. Without ever chasing the spotlight, he nevertheless attracted it. President Bill Clinton hailed Aaron’s work on race relations as paving the way for Barack Obama’s election as President in 2008.
While his career record of 755 home runs fell in 2007, many continue to regard Aaron as the true King of the Home Run as Barry Bonds, who topped Aaron’s mark, is widely considered to have used performance enhancing drugs. .
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