Hank Aaron, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, has passed away. To honor the iconic Georgia citizen and sportsman, we’ll take a look back at his incredible influence. Rest in peace.
Rest In Peace, Hank Aaron
On behalf of the Aaron family, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced the passing of Henry Louis ‘Hank’ Aaron at the age of 86-years-old. “Our family is heartbroken to hear the news of Hank Aaron’s passing,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stated on behalf of the Aaron family. “Hank Aaron was an American icon and one of Georgia’s greatest legends. His life and career made history, and his influence was felt not only in the world of sports, but far beyond — through his important work to advance civil rights and create a more equal, just society.” Aaron passed away in his sleep, from natural causes.
A native Georgian, Aaron also played for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves for the majority of his baseball career (1954 – 1976), making him an even bigger celebrity in his home state. Along the way, he also managed to break dozens of major league records. He set the records for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856), extra-base hits (1,477), and of course, home runs (755), breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Incredibly, his 755 homerun record lived until 2007. However, Aaron did a lot more than play baseball well. He changed the sporting world forever for black Americans.
Dealing With Hate And Racism
In addition to becoming a baseball legend, Aaron also worked so hard to expand the civil rights of black Americans. As you might imagine, playing in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, he experienced racism from baseball fans and other players from the beginning. In fact, just before breaking Babe Ruth’s record, one man even treated to kill Aaron. After he broke the record, Aaron said, “If I was white, all America would be proud of me, but I am Black.”
Through it all, though, Aaron never let anyone push him around. He finished his career as an all-star and, until his death, kept the hate mail he received to show the world just how lowly cowards and bullies are. So, it’s really no surprise that, after his passing, many came out and said incredible things about Aaron!
One of America’s Greatest
Baseball fans were the hardest hit by the news of Aaron’s passing. “Hank Aaron is near the top of everyone’s list of all-time great players,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. “His monumental achievements as a player were surpassed only by his dignity and integrity as a person. His career demonstrates that a person who goes to work with humility every day can hammer his way into history — and find a way to shine like no other.”
Meanwhile, many Georgians came forward saying what Aaron meant to them. “This is a considerable loss for the entire city of Atlanta,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said after Aaron’s passing. “While the world knew him as ‘Hammering Hank Aaron’ because of his incredible, record-setting baseball career, he was a cornerstone of our village, graciously and freely joining Mrs. Aaron in giving their presence and resources toward making our city a better place. As an adopted son of Atlanta, Mr. Aaron was part of the fabric that helped place Atlanta on the world stage. Our gratitude, thoughts and prayers are with the Aaron family.”
“With courage and dignity, he eclipsed the most hallowed record in sports while absorbing vengeance that would have broken most people,” President Joe Biden said. “But he was unbreakable.”