Henry Louis Aaron was raised on a farm in the neighboring community of Toulminville after being born in Mobile, Alabama. Life was challenging for the Aaron family, which included his diligent parents Herbert and Estella, who had eight kids to raise. Henry developed a passion for baseball while listening to games on a neighbor’s radio as a young child. Henry practiced batting by striking bottle caps he hurled in the air with a broom handle or a bundle of rags he had fashioned into a homemade ball because the family could not afford sports equipment. Baseball was a sport he enjoyed playing with his brother Tommie, who would eventually join him in the big leagues. Henry Louis Aaron Wiki, Age, Family, Networth, Quotes, Biography
Henry excelled at baseball and football while attending Mobile’s segregated Central High School as a freshman and sophomore. In the 1940s, professional baseball was also racially segregated, with black and white players competing in different leagues. When Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in the major baseball leagues in 1947, this barrier was broken. Henry Aaron, then 15 years old, tried out for Robinson’s team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, but was unsuccessful in getting accepted. He played for the Mobile Black Bears, an independent Negro League team, and attended the exclusive Josephine Allen Institute during his junior and senior years of high school. He declined college football scholarships after high school to play baseball for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League instead.
Despite using a unique cross-hand grip to hold the bat during his early seasons as a full-time professional, Aaron stood out. In 1952, the Clowns won their league’s World Series, and Aaron grabbed the attention of scouts from the major leagues. The Negro Leagues were a source of new talent for Major League Baseball after Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough with the Dodgers. The Boston Braves and New York Giants franchises both made offers to Aaron. If he had joined with the Giants, he would have shared the field with Willie Mays, a young sensation who had just been acquired from the Negro League, but Aaron chose to sign with the Braves instead because they were willing to pay him $50 more a month. Aaron left Indianapolis for the Braves farm team in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, after the Braves paid the Clowns $10,000 for his contract.
Aaron liked his first season in Wisconsin, where he eventually gave up the cross-hand grip in favor of a more traditional hitting approach, despite never having been so far from home. He was promoted to the Jacksonville (Florida) Braves of the Class A Southern Atlantic or “Sally” League as a result of his success in Eau Claire. Returning to the South meant returning to the indignities of segregation, despite the fact that the relocation was a promotion professionally. Because African Americans were not allowed in the motels where his white colleagues were staying, Aaron was left to arrange his own lodging while on the road.
Despite discrimination, minor harassment, and other challenges, Aaron kept improving as an athlete. Aaron played shortstop and third base in his first professional seasons before being quickly shifted to the outfield by the Braves. Aaron was selected as the league’s 1953 Most Valuable Player after Jacksonville won the Sally League championship in that year
The Braves relocated from Boston to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1953. The team added Aaron to their lineup after Bobby Thomson, their left fielder, sustained an injury during practice. Aaron became a consistent home run hitter after a brief time of adjustment. The team’s PR department referred to him as “Hank” Aaron rather than “Henry” to improve his public image because he was naturally quiet and reserved in person. He swiftly earned the moniker “Hammerin’ Hank” due to his forceful hitting. In 1955, Sporting News named Aaron the National League Player of the Year and he was selected for the first time to the National League All-Star team.
The entrance of African American pupils into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, required President Eisenhower’s intervention, as well as the presence of federal troops and U.S. marshals, while Hank Aaron was basking in the admiration of white teammates and spectators in Milwaukee. The effort to attain complete equality under the law would take many more years, despite the fact that famous personalities like Hank Aaron helped many white Americans accept African Americans as equals.
For the next ten years, Aaron continued to be a strong hitter, regularly hitting 30 home runs or more in a single season. He had 130 runs batted in, 44 home runs, and led the League in 1963. The Braves relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1965, from Milwaukee. Aaron’s record as a home run hitter propelled him into the illustrious ranks of the game’s greatest sluggers as the 1960s came to a close. He surpassed Mickey Mantle the Yankees’ home run record in 1969. He set a new record for most seasons with 30 or more home runs in 1970, when he recorded his 3,000th hit. Aaron broke Willie Mays’ record to move into second place on the list of most home runs in a professional baseball career, despite the fact that the 1972 season was cut short by a players’ strike. In the 1973 season, it became clear that Aaron was getting close to breaking Babe Ruth’s illustrious record for most career home runs, which had stood since the 1930s.
Aaron fell one run short of the record with 713 home runs in his career after hitting 40 during the 1973 season. Between the 1973 and 1974 seasons, the hate mail increased, and racist thugs even threatened sports writers for writing about Aaron’s exploits. Aaron will be under the season-long protection of officer Calvin Wardlaw from the Atlanta police. The majority of baseball fans applauded Aaron’s effort, and when the 1974 season got underway, excitement reached a fever pitch. Although the first three games of the season, played against the Cincinnati Reds, were scheduled to be played in Cincinnati, the Braves front office was adamant that Aaron set the record at home in Atlanta. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn insisted that Aaron play in the games in Cincinnati despite the Braves’ best efforts to prevent him from doing so. Aaron hit home run number 714 in his first at-bat of the new year, tying Babe Ruth’s record.
The Braves faced the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 8, 1974, in Atlanta. Millions of people watched the game live on television in addition to the more than 53,000 attendees. When Dodgers pitcher Al Downing threw to Aaron in the fourth inning, Aaron hit the ball over the outfield wall and into the Braves dugout. Two college students who had stormed the field temporarily joined Aaron as he ran around the bases as the crowd erupted and millions of people celebrated in front of their televisions. Estella and Herbert Aaron met their son at home plate to witness his accomplishment. Aaron hit 733 home runs in all during the 1974 campaign.
He was supposed to retire at age 39. Aaron was moved by the Braves to the Milwaukee Brewers after he made the decision to continue playing, bringing him back to the place where he spent the first several seasons of his major league career. Aaron smashed one more of Babe Ruth’s records for runs batted in during the 1975 season (RBI). In 1975, Hank Aaron participated in his final All-Star game. He hit his 755th home run the next year, which was also his final as a player. Up until 2007, when Barry Bonds broke it, this record stood. Bonds received congratulations from Aaron at the time, but many baseball fans still view Hank Aaron as the genuine home run record holder because it was later discovered that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career.
Hank Aaron moved back to Atlanta to serve as an executive with the Braves organization after he retired from playing baseball. He received his first election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, the year he became eligible. Aaron was one of the first African Americans to hold a senior managerial position in Major League Baseball as the Vice President and Director of Player Development for the Braves. Later, he rose to the position of vice president of community relations for Turner Broadcasting System, the team’s owner. In the greater Atlanta area, he also owned and maintained a number of auto dealerships as well as food and restaurant chains like Popeye’s and Krispy Kreme. He released his autobiography, If I Had a Hammer, in 1990. As proud as he was of his accomplishments in baseball and business, Aaron found even more fulfillment in his work with the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, which provides financial aid and scholarships for young people to follow their aspirations.
The Hank Aaron Award was established by Major League Baseball in 1999 to recognize the best hitters in the National and American Leagues. Hank Aaron received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush in 2002. Today, a statue of Hank Aaron can be seen in front of Atlanta’s Turner Field, home of the Braves. The stadium is located at 755 Hank Aaron Drive as a nod to his all-time high in home runs.
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