Friday, January 22, 2021
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2021
After Hall of Famers Tommy Lasorda and Don Sutton passed away earlier this year, Thursday night Henry “Hank” Louis Aaron passed away during his sleep. Aaron was a true gentleman.
Aaron escaped from segregated Alabama by playing baseball. He was one of seven children who lived in poverty. When Aaron was 13, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson broke the Major-League color barrier, and Aaron vowed to play in the Major Leagues before Robinson retired.
In 1951, Aaron signed with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues where he became a star. While Aaron’s play received attention from the New York Giants, he signed with the Boston Braves.
Aaron played in the Major Leagues for 23 years. He mainly played with the Braves organization though he played in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He appeared in 25 All-Star Games. He was a true five-tool player. When he retired as a Milwaukee Brewer in 1976, he led the Major Leagues in hits with 3,771 hits, 755 home runs, 2,297 RBI, and total bases by twelve miles.
While chasing Babe Ruth for the Major League home run record, Aaron received about 900,00 pieces of mail. He received 3,000 death threats. In 2021, it is difficult for most people to believe any person would threaten a super black player for breaking the all-time home run record. Through the unnecessary stress, Aaron handled himself with class and dignity. When he broke the prestigious record in Atlanta in 1974, he received a standing ovation in the Deep South where racism was deeply embedded.
In 1957, Aaron earned the National League MVP. Three times he won the National League Gold Glove. Twice he won the National League batting champions. Four times, Aaron led the National League in home runs. Most baseball-knowledge people thought Aaron was an underrated player.
While Aaron endured unthinkable racism, he was not bitter. He joined the Braves’ organization after his retirement. He established a foundation to help children from nine to twelve to follow their dreams. Baseball named the award for the best offensive player in each league after Hank Aaron.
Aaron’s bravery to face unfair racism opened doors for many Americans who never played baseball. Aaron was a member of the Major League All-Century Team. In 2002, President George W. Bush gave Hank Aaron the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Today, the baseball world and the United States lost a national treasure. Aaron’s humble and giving nature set an example for all. He will be missed, but the Earth is a better place for having Hank Aaron being a part of it.
Friday, January 22, 2021