Henry Louis Hank Aaron Biograpy
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Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (born February 5, 1934), baseball player
and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, is best known for setting
the record for most home runs in a career (755), surpassing the
previous mark of 714 by Babe Ruth.
Aaron was a star outfielder with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves,
a perennial All-Star, and the National League's Most Valuable
Player in 1957. In his career, he was selected to a record 24
All-Star Game appearances. He also won three Gold Glove Awards
as an outfielder (1958-1960).
Aaron's first team, with whom he signed while he was still in
high school, was the semi-pro Birmingham Black Bears, but he was
acquired in 1951 by the Negro American League champion Indianapolis
Clowns after the Black Bears played an exhibition against the
Clowns the previous year. The Clowns won the Negro League World
Series in 1952 and Aaron's contract was acquired by the Braves,
then still in Boston. After a stellar year with the Braves minor
League affiliate in Eau Claire, Aaron, along with Horace Garner
and Felix Mantilla, was sent to Jacksonville to break the color
line in the South Atlantic League. Despite enduring non-stop racial
epithets and threats, Aaron led the league in runs, hits, doubles,
RBI, and batting average to become the league's Most Valuable
Player. The next year, he got his big break in the majors when
he was called up by the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before
the 1953 season, to replace the injured Bobby Thompson.
In his first season (1954) he was moved from shortstop to outfielder,
and despite an injury which caused him to miss part of the season,
posted a batting average of .280 and hit 13 home runs. Over the
next twenty years, Aaron proved himself to be one of the greatest
baseball players in history. He was a perennial all star (1955-1975)
and led the league in batting average twice (1956, 1959), slugging
percentage four times (1959, 1963, 1967, 1971), OPS three times
(1959, 1963, 1971), runs scored three times (1957, 1963, 1967),
hits twice (1956, 1959), total bases an amazing eight times (1956,
1957, 1959-1961, 1963, 1967, 1969), doubles four times (1955-1956,
1961, 1965), home runs four times (1957, 1963, 1966-1967), and
RBIs four times (1957, 1960, 1963, 1966). He hit .300 fourteen
times (1955-1959, 1961-1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973), scored 100
or more runs fifteen times (1955-1967, 1969-1970), and knocked
in 100 or more runs eleven times (1955, 1957, 1959-1963, 1966-1967,
1970-1971). Aaron and teammates Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn
led Milwaukee to pennants in 1957 and 1958 and defeated the New
York Yankees in the 1957 World Series.
He played most of his prime in Milwaukee's County Stadium, which
was a poor home-run park. When the team moved to Atlanta in 1966,
Aaron's home run output increased (Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
- famously friendly to hitters - was nicknamed "The Launching
Pad"); he hit 44 homers his first season there. His hallmark was
consistency: his best home run season was "only" 47 (in 1971),
but he sustained high levels of production for over twenty years.
This enabled him to approach the home run record in the early
As a 39-year-old, Aaron hit exactly 40 home runs in 1973, ending
the season with a career total of 713. Over the winter, Aaron
endured death threats and a barrage of racist hate mail from people
who did not want to see a black man break Ruth's home run record.
However, when this harassment became widely known, the ballplayer
enjoyed a massive flood of public support motivated at least partially
to counter the bigotry. As the 1974 season began, Aaron's pursuit
of the home run record caused a small controversy.
The Braves opened the season in Cincinnati with a three game
series before playing their first home game, but Braves management
wanted him to break the record in Atlanta. Therefore, they were
going to have Aaron sit out the first three games of the season.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that he had to play two out of three.
He tied Babe Ruth's record in his very first at bat, but did not
hit another home run in the series. Hank Aaron broke the record
on April 8, with a home run in Atlanta off Los Angeles pitcher
Al Downing. He finished his career with a two-year stint with
the Milwaukee Brewers. Aaron is the all-time leader in home runs
(755), RBIs (2297), extra base hits (1477), and total bases (6856).
He is also in the top ten in games (3rd, 3298), at bats (2nd,
12364), runs (3rd, 2174), hits (3rd, 3771), and doubles (9th,
624). Although he is justifiably proud of his record for home
runs, he is particularly proud of his total bases record because
he feels it more accurately acknowledges his valuable contribution
to his team. Aaron now works as an executive with the Atlanta
Braves organization. His autobiography I Had a Hammer was published
in 1990. Aaron now owns Hank Aaron BMW of south Atlanta where
every car is sold with an autographed baseball. Aaron attended
Game 4 of the 2004 World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis,
Missouri and personally awarded the Hank Aaron award winners -
Barry Bonds in the NL, Manny Ramirez in the AL.
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