Hank Aaron, one of the best players ever to star in the MLB, died Friday morning (Jan. 22). Amassing a number of records in his long career, Aaron still holds several significant records and still remains as one of the best sluggers the game has ever seen.
The news of Aaron’s broke after his daughter confirmed the shocking news to WSB-TV in Atlanta. The details of his passing have not been shared but it has been reported that he passed away at his home according to Atlanta outlet WGCL.
Aaron, who named an MLB All-Star 25 times, played in Major League Baseball from 1954 to 1976, after starting his career in the Negro Leagues in 1952. Aaron played much of his career with the Braves organization, which was first based in Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta. Aaron ended his career where it began in Milwaukee with the Brewers organization.
On April 8, 1974, Aaron moved past one of the most iconic records in the MLB after becoming the Home Run King, passing Babe Ruth’s coveted 714 home runs record. The saga of Aaron chasing the lofty record wasn’t without its drama as fans couldn’t conceive of a once-poor Black man from Mobile, Ala. breaking the Sultan of Swat’s record. The hate and vitriol faced by Aaron were so bad that the night he broke the home run record against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his armed bodyguard was disguised but at the ready to intervene should anyone try to harm the slugger.
Aaron’s home run record stood at 755 for decades until Barry Bonds surpassed it in 2007. However, Aaron’s impact on the game as a slugger and solid outfielder could never be replaced. Aaron was rightfully inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, cementing a career that still inspires young players in the sandlot today.
After concluding his playing career, Aaron signed on as an executive with the Atlanta Braves. He was then named the vice president and director of player development for the Braves, becoming one of the first Black upper-level executives in the MLB. Aaron was also heavily involved in several business interests outside of baseball while still remaining a valuable ambassador of the game via his Hank Aaron Rookie League program.
While Aaron no longer stands as the home run leader, he is still the all-time leader in RBI with 2,297, and total bases at 6,856. Aaron is listed third in career hits at 3,771. The three-time Gold Gloves winner also won batting titles twice in the late 1950s and was the recipient of the 1970 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Aaron is survived by his wife, Billye, and six children among several other relatives.
Hank Aaron was 86.
Rest Powerfully in Peace, Hammerin’ Hank.