Hank Aaron was born Henry Louis Aaron in Mobile, Alabama on February 5, 1934, one day and 39-years after Babe Ruth was born. He is the third and last child to Herbert and Estella Aaron. His father's occupation was an assistant to a boilermaker, which obviously didn't make much as it was during the time of the Great Depression.

Hank was always interested in baseball, even as a young child. His playing also kept him out of trouble. Hank went to a segregated all-black African American school. After that, he attended Mobile Central High School. During his time in high school, he played on the school's softball team. He also played baseball outside of school to keep him busy during the day.

During a school softball game, Hank was approached by Ed Scott, a baseball scout for the Mobile Black Bears, a Negro League team. He played for the Black Bears at a salary of $10 a game, and when he turned 18, he signed with the Indianapolis Clowns for $200 a month. After proving his talent with the Clowns, Aaron was approached by Dewey Griggs, a scout for the the Milwaukee Braves.

Aaron soon began playing in the minor leagues in the Braves organization. He won the MVP that season, as well as making the All-Star team for his league. During this time period, he met Barbara Lucas. They dated for several months and were married on October 13, 1953.

On March 14, 1954, the Braves called up Aaron to play for injured left fielder), Bobby Thompson. Hank finished the season on the injured list with a broken ankle after an aggressive slide. The following year, Aaron switched positions to right field. He led the league that season in doubles, hitting 37.

Hank Aaron had a talent for hitting the ball. In eleven of his major league seasons, he had at least a 100 RBIs. He made the All-Star game an unprecedented 21 times. Hank Aaron's 109th home run proved to be explosive, as it earned the Braves the penant during the 1957 season. That same year, the Braves defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series, four games to three. Shortly after the '57 season, Aaron's wife Barbara gave birth to twins, but sadly one of them died at birth.

In 1970, his 17th major league season, he reached 3000 hits. When he reached that milestone, he had at the time 570 home runs. Little did he know that he was still almost 200 home runs shy before he would retire.

In the winter of 1971, Hank and Barbara divorced as things between them kept coming apart. Two years later, Hank would meet another woman, Billye Williams, whom he would marry.

He ended his career in 1974 with 755 home runs, the record he is most widely known for. It is sad that he received death threats when he was close to passing Babe Ruth's record of 714, because fans didn't want to see a black man hold the record. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 with a 97.83% majority (406/415 votes in his favor). He led the National League in home runs and RBIs four times in his career. He won the batting title twice. He is the all-time leader in home runs (755) and RBIs (2,297). He is third on the all-time list in hits (3,771). Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron earned his nickname because of all the home runs he hit. He raised the bar for home runs.

Hank Aaron still works for baseball as an exec in the Atlanta Braves organization. He has five children: Gail, Hankie, Larry, Dorinda and Ceci.

Below are the main highlights and statistics of Hank Aarons career:

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • NL MVP: 1957.
  • Gold Glove award: 1958-60.
  • The Sporting News NL Player of the Year: 1956, 1963.
  • NL batting champion: 1956 (.328), 1959 (.355).
  • NL home run champion: 1957 (44), 1963 (44), 1966 (44), 1967 (39).
  • NL RBI leader: 1957 (132), 1960 (126), 1963 (130), 1966 (127).
  • NL total bases leader: 1956 (340), 1957 (369), 1959 (400), 1960 (334), 1961 (358), 1963 (370), 1967 (344), 1969 (332).
  • NL slugging percentage leader: 1959 (.636), 1963 (.586), 1971 (.669)
  • NL runs scored leader: 1957 (118); 1963 (121); 1967 (113).
  • NL hits leader: 1956 (200), 1959 (223).
  • NL doubles leader: 1955 (37), 1956 (34), 1961 (39), 1965 (40).
  • Three home runs in one game: June 21, 1959.
  • All-time home run leader: 755.
  • All-time games played: 3,298.
  • All-time at-bats leader: 12,364.
  • All-time RBI leader: 2,297.
  • All-time total bases leader: 6,856.
  • All-time extra-base hits leader: 1,477.
  • Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame: 1982.

These are Hank Aaron's career statistics:

Batting

 YEAR   TEAM    G    AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG
 1954 MLN NL  122   468   58  131  27  6  13   69   2  2   28   39 .280 .322 .447
 1955 MLN NL  153   602  105  189  37  9  27  106   3  1   49   61 .314 .366 .540
 1956 MLN NL  153   609  106  200  34 14  26   92   2  4   37   54 .328 .365 .558
 1957 MLN NL  151   615  118  198  27  6  44  132   1  1   57   58 .322 .378 .600
 1958 MLN NL  153   601  109  196  34  4  30   95   4  1   59   49 .326 .386 .546
 1959 MLN NL  154   629  116  223  46  7  39  123   8  0   51   54 .355 .401 .636
 1960 MLN NL  153   590  102  172  20 11  40  126  16  7   60   63 .292 .352 .566
 1961 MLN NL  155   603  115  197  39 10  34  120  21  9   56   64 .327 .381 .594
 1962 MLN NL  156   592  127  191  28  6  45  128  15  7   66   73 .323 .390 .618
 1963 MLN NL  161   631  121  201  29  4  44  130  31  5   78   94 .319 .391 .586
 1964 MLN NL  145   570  103  187  30  2  24   95  22  4   62   46 .328 .393 .514
 1965 MLN NL  150   570  109  181  40  1  32   89  24  4   60   81 .318 .379 .560
 1966 ATL NL  158   603  117  168  23  1  44  127  21  3   76   96 .279 .356 .539
 1967 ATL NL  155   600  113  184  37  3  39  109  17  6   63   97 .307 .369 .573
 1968 ATL NL  160   606   84  174  33  4  29   86  28  5   64   62 .287 .354 .498
 1969 ATL NL  147   547  100  164  30  3  44   97   9 10   87   47 .300 .396 .607
 1970 ATL NL  150   516  103  154  26  1  38  118   9  0   74   63 .298 .385 .574
 1971 ATL NL  139   495   95  162  22  3  47  118   1  1   71   58 .327 .410 .669
 1972 ATL NL  129   449   75  119  10  0  34   77   4  0   92   55 .265 .390 .514
 1973 ATL NL  120   392   84  118  12  1  40   96   1  1   68   51 .301 .402 .643
 1974 ATL NL  112   340   47   91  16  0  20   69   1  0   39   29 .268 .341 .491
 1975 MIL AL  137   465   45  109  16  2  12   60   0  1   70   51 .234 .332 .355
 1976 MIL AL   85   271   22   62   8  0  10   35   0  1   35   38 .229 .315 .369
 CAREER      3298 12364 2174 3771 624 98 755 2297 240 73 1402 1383 .305 .374 .555

Fielding

 YEAR   TEAM POS    G   PO   A   E  DP    FP
 1954 MLN NL  OF  116  223   5   7   0  .970
 1955 MLN NL  OF  126  254   9   9   2  .967
              2B   27   86  84   6  23  .966
 1956 MLN NL  OF  152  316  17  13   4  .962
 1957 MLN NL  OF  150  346   9   6   0  .983
 1958 MLN NL  OF  153  305  12   5   0  .984
 1959 MLN NL  OF  152  261  12   5   3  .982
              3B    5    2  10   0   0 1.000
 1960 MLN NL  OF  153  320  13   6   6  .982
              2B    2    1   0   0   0 1.000
 1961 MLN NL  OF  154  377  13   7   3  .982
              3B    2    2   2   0   0 1.000
 1962 MLN NL  OF  153  340  11   7   1  .980
              1B    1    1   0   0   0 1.000
 1963 MLN NL  OF  161  267  10   6   1  .979
 1964 MLN NL  OF  139  270  13   5   5  .983
              2B   11   14  15   1   2  .967
 1965 MLN NL  OF  148  298   9   4   2  .987
 1966 ATL NL  OF  158  315  12   4   5  .988
              2B    2    0   0   0   0  .000
 1967 ATL NL  OF  152  321  12   7   3  .979
              2B    1    1   0   0   0 1.000
 1968 ATL NL  OF  151  330  13   3   2  .991
              1B   14   88   7   2   8  .979
 1969 ATL NL  OF  144  267  11   5   3  .982
              1B    4   32   2   0   3 1.000
 1970 ATL NL  OF  125  246   6   6   1  .977
              1B   11   73   4   1   6  .987
 1971 ATL NL  1B   71  629  38   3  56  .996
              OF   60  104   2   2   0  .981
 1972 ATL NL  1B  109  968  66  14  79  .987
              OF   15   28   4   3   0  .914
 1973 ATL NL  OF  105  206   5   5   0  .977
 1974 ATL NL  OF   89  142   3   2   0  .986
 1975 MIL AL  OF    3    2   0   0   0 1.000
 1976 MIL AL  OF    1    1   0   0   0 1.000
 POSITION TOT OF 2760 5539 201 117  41  .980
              1B  210 1791 117  20 152  .990
              2B   43  102  99   7  25  .966
              3B    7    4  12   0   0 1.000
 CAREER          3020 7436 429 144 218  .982

Below is the speech that Hank Aaron gave on August 1, 1982. The speech was for his acceptence into the Baseball Hall of Fame:

    Thank you very much, Commissioner Kuhn, League Presidents and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I feel a great sense of humility, gratitude and appreciation for this day. And for what it means to me and my family. I'm extremely proud to be joining a group of men who performed on the baseball field. Epitomized the highest and the best in professional athletics. I am pleased to be joining them in the company of Travis Jackson, Happy Chandler and Frank Robinson, some of baseball's greats.

    I also feel especially proud to be standing here where some years ago Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella proved the way and made it possible for Frank and me and for other blacks, hopeful in baseball. They proved to the world that a man's ability is limited only by his lack of opportunity.

    The sheer majesty of this occasion and its significance overwhelms me. For truly I reflect on my life and particularly on my 23 years in baseball. I am reminded of a statement I once read, and I quote, "The way to fame is like the way to heaven. Through much tribulation." It had been for me, to quote a very popular song, the long and winding road. Nevertheless, I have been extremely blessed.

    I stand here today because God gave me a healthy body, a sound mind and talent. For 23 years I took the talent that God gave me and developed it to the best of my ability.

    Twenty-three years ago, I never dreamed of this high honor would come to me. For it was not fame I sought, but rather the best baseball player that I could possibly be.

    I grew up in a home where there was little in the way of material goods. But there was an abundance of love and discipline. We, therefore, had much to share. And so too is this occasion an occasion for sharing, an occasion for thanksgiving. For I did not make this journey alone. A lot of people contributed in a lot of different ways to my success as a professional baseball player. And to them a deep debt of gratitude. The list is far too long for me to mention all of them, however, I must mention a few.

    I would like to acknowledge the presence of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Aaron. Without whose love and encouragement, this day could not have been. My wife, Billye, who brought an awful lot of sunshine into my life. And I would like to introduce my children, Gail. Hankie. Larry. Dorinda. Ceci. Who have been supportive and understanding of my long absences away from home.

    My sisters and brothers who have always been some of my biggest fans. My teammates of the Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. Thank you.

    I want to thank the wonderful people of Milwaukee and Atlanta where I spent my baseball career. I also would like to thank Mr. John Mullen, who was introduced earlier; Mr. Bill Bartholomay and also my boss, Mr. Ted Turner from the Atlanta Braves. Thank you for coming. And we also have, sitting on the front seat, Mr. Al Farnwell, the executive vice president. Thank you very much for coming.

    Finally, I would like to thank some special friends and family who traveled here to be with me on this occasion. From Atlanta, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, an ardent baseball fan, distinguished educator and presidented meritice of Morehouse College, who today celebrated his 88th birthday. Thank you very much, Dr. Mays.

    I would also like to thank the Lockets, Sam Franco. My in-laws, the McDaniels and the Swedes. Permit me also to express a special thanks to Mr. Walter John and Mr. Carl Ware and other executives from the Coca-Cola company for their presence and for providing transportation for my children and some of their friends from Atlanta. Including Marvin Harrington, former Mayor Maynard Jackson and Congressman Wyche Fowler and their many other friends here.

    And there are many other friends here who I just cannot mention all of them. All of you have touched my life in a very positive way. I'm so grateful to you and so very pleased that you could share this evening with me. Thank you very much.


Sources:
http://history1900s.about.com/cs/aaronhank
http://www.infoplease.com/ipsa/A0108954.html
http://www.baseball-reference.com/a/aaronha01.shtml
http://darter.ocps.net/classroom/who/darter2/haaron.html
http://www.blountweb.com/outtasite/2001/football/historic/hank_aaron.htm
http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/aaron_hank.htm


Hall of Fame Index
Pete Alexander


Some additional perspective and emphasis:

He secured of one of the most cherished records in all of sports - hit 755 home runs during regular season games of Major League Baseball.

Henry Louis Aaron - known as "Hank" and "The Hammer" - was born in Mobile, Alabama 2/5/34. He played 1954-1974 with Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and 1975-1976 with Milwaukee Brewers. He played in twenty-one1 All Star Games - consecutively - and two World Series. His lifetime batting average was .305

Along the way to the home run record, on 4/8/74 he hit home run number 715 to eclipse the record held by Babe Ruth2, which for decades was argued to be "unbreakable3." Aaron's reception into the annals of history was marred by disdain from a number of "purists" who didn't take well to such a momentous achievement by a Negro, Aaron. Aaron received numerous serious and specific death threats when it became apparent that he was about to claim the arguably most prestigious record in the sport.4

Though he is a modest and soft-spoken man, Aaron has been known to say that the home run record was overemphasized, calling attention to other records such as most runs batted in (which is strategically more important to winning baseball games) and second most intentional bases-on-balls pitched to. Indeed, the list of records with his name is quite grand5. Furthermore, he had the rare combination of power and speed6. Tragically forgotten was his defensive prowess in the outfield, combining coverage speed and a rocket throwing arm.7

The impact of racism can not be overstated in Aaron's rightful place on the throne of the sport. After his playing career ended Aaron remained highly inconspicuous instead of basking in greatness, a la, e.g., Dimaggio. When baseball pundits reel off lists of the hitting "greats" they can make a long list like "Cobb...Ruth...Ted Williams...Mays...Mantle..."(of course you could go on) - yet Aaron's name is shockingly absent from most such discussions.

Aaron quietly remained in Atlanta after his playing career. In 2003 he still holds an office position in the Atlanta Braves organization.


Please don't waste your time dwelling on the P.C.-ness of the word "Negro." For this discussion and its historical timing and context, it is the correct historical term.

Footnotes:

1. At least two Internet sources state 24 All-Star game performances, including about.com. Pretty poor, fellas. Aaron's major league career spanned 23 years, and he was absent from the summer classic in his rookie and final seasons. (Still, the accomplishment - appearing in all 21 other seasons of his career - is breathtaking.)

2. Though the recordkeeping has been disputed, Negro Leagues player Josh Gibson reputedly hit "almost 800" home runs(1930-1946), according to his plaque at the Hall Of Fame.

3. The "unbreakable" list of baseball records was formed in 1973. Of course it was inspired by Aaron's march to the all time home run title, which he claimed in 1974.

4. Negroes were forbidden to play major league baseball until an exciting player named Jackie Robinson "broke the color barrier" in 1947. Aaron himself broke in with the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns in 1951.

5. All time most major league career home runs, extra base hits, total bases, runs batted in; 2nd most career intentional walks received; 3rd in hits and in runs and sac. flies (and the list goes on and on).

Most striking was his consistency. He never came close to any of baseball's individual season league records. His highest season home run performance was 47. He did lead the league in homers four times, and in total bases nine times; among other highest season marks he led twice in batting average and was in the top 10 for stolen bases in eight seasons. Naturally, he holds nearly all team batting records for the Atlanta Braves and most for the Milwaukee Braves. - http://baseball-reference.com/a/aaronh a01.shtml

With Eddie Mathews set the record for most career homers by teammates, 863.

6. Years before Pete Rose's wondrous displays of hustle, Aaron had an annoying (to the opponent) habit of charging around first base and sprinting to second base after striking what appeared to be a routine single. In the typical scenario there was a nonchalant toss from an outfielder to the shortstop in short outfield, followed by a panicked relay to the base, by which time Aaron had flown safely into second.

7. Aaron was relegated to the right field position, which typically has the fewest number of defensive plays. Who knows why. Aaron's defensive skills have never been brought into question - he won Golden Glove awards for 3 straight years.

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