The Life and Legacy of Hank Aaron

William Tribick, Staff Writer

Hank Aaron, MLB Hall of Famer who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, died at 86. Aaron had been a part of the Atlanta/Boston Braves for nearly 23 seasons and set the record for the most home runs ever recorded by a player. He passed away peacefully in his sleep while at his Atlanta home. Fans all over the world mourn the loss of arguably one of the best MLB players ever.  

The hunger for the game of baseball stirred in young Henry Aaron even though the leagues were segregated at the time. He would still play in the negro leagues though and hoping to be noticed by MLB teams, he played his heart out. He finally got a chance and was noticed by two teams, the Boston Braves, and the New York Giants. Both team’s offers were tempting to Aaron, and he chose to play for the Braves because of a $50 increase in pay from the Giant’s offer. $50 separated Hank Aaron from playing with baseball legend Willie Mays. RHS freshman Max Weiskopf says, “This would be possibly the greatest duo in baseball, even better than Babe Ruth a Lou Gehrig.”  

While Aaron could have played with Mays, he still had a future ahead of him. After playing in the minor leagues for a while, Aaron started his MLB career after Braves left fielder Bobby Thompson fractured his ankle sliding into second base during a spring training game. Hank got the nickname “Hank” from one of the team managers because they called him “Hamerin’ Hank” in the clubhouse. Hank would respond to either name, Henry or Hank it didn’t matter to him. During his first season, Aaron wore number five and started out with a slump, until he switched his number to number 44 and began putting respect to his name. Forty-four seemed to be his lucky number because he ended up having four 44 home run seasons and coincidentally hit his 715th home run off of Al Drowning who also wore number 44. 

Hank hitting his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s previous record on April 8, 1974,
Photo Cred: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Hank’s career was nothing short of miraculous. Hank made all-star every year that he played, including his rookie year. Despite making the all-star team 22 times Hank only won the MVP once. “Hank should have won at least three MVPs,” RHS freshman Charlie Bridges says, “Sadly, I think the color of his skin mainly contributed to the fact that he only won one.” Before the season that Hank his 715th home run, he received death threats from white supremacists calling him racial slurs and telling him that they were going to kill him if he broke Babe Ruth’s home run title. Hank broke it anyway and no harm happened to him.  

The Roswell community is devastated by the passing of Hank because of his impact on Atlanta sports and the world of baseball. The Braves organization paid respect by hosting a memorial service shortly after his death, allowing fans to come and say goodbye to the home run king. In Hank’s honor, the Braves started a fund to help minorities have access to sports equipment and tools because of Hank’s childhood. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, Hank will forever be one of baseball’s greatest players.