MLB legend Hank Aaron, a.k.a. “Hammerin’ Hank,” passed away today at the age of 86. Aaron was known on the field for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714, surpassing it with 755 home runs. Barry Bonds broke Aaron’s record in 2007 with 762 home runs, although many MLB fans and stars refuse to recognize Bonds’ accomplishment because of his steroid scandals and his poor attitude on and off the field.
Aaron was known off the field for his civil rights advocacy. He received many racist death threats throughout his career, especially after he broke Babe Ruth’s record. Racism in American society didn’t like that a black man was overshadowing “The Great Bambino.” The night Aaron beat Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, sportscaster Vin Scully said, “What a marvelous moment for baseball, what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us.”
Hank Aaron is originally from Mobile, Alabama and signed his first professional contract at 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. He joined the Atlanta Braves in 1952. Five years later, he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, the first year he was eligible.