Hank Aaron leaves a baseball legacy to remember


Courtesy of Sporting News

Jackie Robinson came to Mobile in March 1948 to talk to local Black youths; Hank Aaron attended the game to hear about future opportunities available to Black people. Aaron set his gaze on professional baseball as a way to leave poverty and backed himself up with amazing talent on the field.

Elijah Pacis, Reporter

Former Atlanta Braves player and Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Famer, Hank Aaron, passed away early Friday morning at 86 years old. The Braves revealed that the home run record holder peacefully departed in his sleep, leaving behind a plethora of achievements throughout his 86 years. His death came as a shock, especially with the baseball world still mourning fellow Hall of Famer Don Sutton’s recent passing at 75. 

Born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron grew up in a poor household and started playing baseball in his neighborhood park. He showed great talent throughout his youth and joined amateur and semi-professional teams after graduating from high school. He found his first opportunity in professional baseball with the Indianapolis Clowns and three months later, the MLB came knocking on his door. He eventually signed with the Braves and stuck with the team throughout the rest of his career. He gained notoriety through how consistently he hit home runs, beating Babe Ruth’s original home run record of 714 by 41, totaling 755 home runs in his illustrious career. He hit his final home run on July 20, 1976, and received an induction to the Hall of Fame six years later. He became the first MLB player to nail 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. His homer reign would only end when Barry Bonds broke the home run record thirty years later in 2007 when he hit his 756th home run.

After his retirement from baseball in 1976, Aaron stayed with the Braves as Vice President of Player Development and later on as senior vice president of the club. He continued his career by promoting minority hiring in the baseball world. 

“I think it hit me when we played an exhibition game, and I don’t know when, in Macon. I think it hit me when I realized that I had some kind of role that I should be playing. I’m not talking about a baseball role, I’m not talking about somebody going out on the baseball field, someone who had a role to play to help other blacks like myself,” Aaron said in an interview with WSB-TV. 

He received inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. who attended one of his games. The meeting would serve as Aaron’s inspiration after his retirement and encourage him to find his life’s purpose alongside looking over the team he played decades on.

“God put you here for a reason. And the reason he put you here is not for you to stand still. He put you here to make you understand that … you gotta do all you can to try and make things better for other people,” Aaron said in the same interview.

Hank Aaron’s life served as an example of someone breaking down their walls to fly high. The Atlanta community will never forget its local hero, a man who accomplished his dreams and helped others to do the same. His memory and legacy will live on with the Braves and his city Atlanta.