We lost a hero this morning.
Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Famer and civil rights icon, Herny Louis “Hank” Aaron, died peacefully in his sleep. He was 86 years old.
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“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” said Atlanta Braves chairman Terry McGuirk in a statement. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”
Known to the world as “Hammerin’ Hank,” one of Hank’s most notable accomplishments was when he smashed Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record to fight back against threats to his life simply for the color of his skin. Using his Hall of Fame baseball career as a platform to champion civil rights, the Alabama native once said that Jackie Robinson served as a lifelong inspiration after he broke the MLB’s color barrier in 1947. At age 14, he saw Robinson play and the rest was history.
Aaron’s first major league tryout was with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 at the tender age of 15. Despite not making the team, he decided to do something better, return to school to receive his diploma.
Entering the league at age 21, Aaron made the first of his record 21 All-Star selections and his record 25 All-Star appearances. His career spanned 23 seasons. Today, he still holds MLB records for runs batted-in (RBIs) (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856).
A quiet, humble giant, Aaron has been praised for his dignity, especially after having received thousands of letters that weren’t only racist, but contained death threats against both him and his family.
“It was supposed to be the greatest triumph of my life, but I was never allowed to enjoy it. I couldn’t wait for it to be over,” Hank once shared. ” The only reason that some people didn’t want me to succeed was because I was a Black man.”
Today we honor the late MLB superstar for his devotion to the game and his commitment to showing up despite persecution. He inspired past generations and will motivate many more to come.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife of 40+ years Billye, their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorinda, Ceci, his grandchildren, and all of his loved ones.
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