Hank Aaron Biography
Hank Aaron has had a very eventful life and career in the game of baseball. He went through many difficult times to get to where he is today, the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But to fully understand why he was inducted to the Hall of Fame, lets take a look at how everything came together in order to achieve this great accomplishment. Henry Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. Going to school for Aaron wasn’t his calling he felt that he should be playing baseball instead, so he quit school in 1951. After dropping out he went to play in the Negro league for the Indianapolis Clowns2. During his time spent playing baseball for the Clowns he lead them to a victory in the 1952 World Series. Many recruiters saw the potential in Aaron to be playing in the major leagues but one team, the Milwaukee Braves, signed him for 10,000 dollars2. In the Braves farm system Aaron played for the Eau Claire Bears, where he won the Northern League Rookie of the Year Award. As soon as Hank got into the major leagues he showed that, that is where he belonged. The spring of 1954 came along and there was a need for a starter in the outfield due to an injury. At the young age of 20 Hank took the spot and hit .280 for his batting average and had 27 homeruns, a respectable rookie year3. For the next twenty-two seasons Aaron proved to be a record breaker. He was consistent hitting 30 or more homeruns in a season, 15 times. He was an all-star every year from 1955- 19753. A lot of hitting records were broken such as the most career RBI’s (runs batted in) 2,297. Not only that but he is 3rd in career hits with 3,7713. In 1957 with the help by Aaron, the National League’s Most Valuable Player, the braves went to the World Series to beat the New York Yankees. At the age of 39, Hank was on a roll hitting thirty to forty homeruns each year as he got to the 1973 season he had another remarkable number of homeruns, forty. Adding up all of the homeruns brought Aaron one homerun from tying the all time homerun record (714) by Babe Ruth. But as great as Hank Aaron was people still weren’t free from racial tensions. Hank had to face many death threats in the offspring as he tried to prepare for the 1974 season. Everyday there would be letters that just poured into the Braves offices, some were there to congratulate Aaron but most were letters trying to discourage Aaron from breaking baseball’s most sacred record. He would get as many as 3,000 letters a day with mixed emotions from baseball fans and non-baseball fans. Hank’s only fear was that he might not live to see the 1974 season. But no matter what anyone said to Aaron he had the determination to break Ruth’s record. Sooner than later the season came along and on opening day Hank hit the tying homerun in Cincinnati. But the highlight of his career was on April 15 in which he hit his 715th career homerun off of Al Downing5 to pass Babe Ruth in the forth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Out of the crowd in the stands 50,000 people stood up and cheered Aaron for his accomplishment. At home plate were his parents to greet him, in the background the fireworks were going off and the band was playing. Aaron was now the all time homerun king. He finished that season with only 20 homeruns, and later he played two more years. At the end of his career he decided to go to the city where it all began, Milwaukee. He ended his long illustrious 23-year major league career in 1976 with a total of 755 homeruns. After playing baseball he took the job of executive vice president in the front office for the Atlanta Braves advocating on certain issues such as minority hiring jobs in baseball2. With all the accolades that Aaron had achieved such as the Lou Gehrig award, which is given to a player who shows characteristics like Lou on and off the field. But the one that put him on top with the greatest players to ever play was being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this year. Aaron was a first ballot inductee receiving 97.8 percent of the vote3. The only other person who had the most percentage of votes was Ty Cobb with 98.2 percent3. In Hank’s free time nowadays he advocates for more opportunities for minorities and has paved the way for them even more in the MLB (Major League Baseball). He also showed us that it is possible to accomplish what you have set your mind to. Aaron established the Chasing the Dream foundation4 to help children between the ages of nine and twelve to provide them with grants to pursue studies in subjects such as music, art, dance, and sports. Hank Aaron has many nicknames like “Hammer”, “Hammerin’ Hank” and “Bad Henry”4 but how ever you know him as he has rewrote baseball history and will always be known as the man that has made a difference on and off the field.
1 Aaron, Hank. I Had a Hammer. New York: Harpercollins, 2007. Print.
2 Vascellaro, Charlie. Hank Aaron: a Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2005. Print.
3 "Hank Aaron Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com." Baseball-Reference.com
Major League Baseball Statistics and History. Web. 09 Mar. 2010. <http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/aaronha01.shtml?redir>.
4 Poolos, Jamie. Hank Aaron. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.
5 Benson, Michael. Hank Aaron, Baseball Player. New York, NY: Ferguson, 2005. Print.