There are certain icons in the world of sports who have a broader impact on the world... names like Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson. The sports world lost another such icon Friday when Major League Baseball Hall of Famer 'Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, who endured vile racist threats with quiet dignity during his 1974 pursuit of Ruth’s home run record, died peacefully in his sleep. Aaron was 86.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called Aaron's passing "a considerable loss for the entire city."
"While the world knew him as ‘Hammering Hank Aaron’ because of his incredible, record-setting baseball career, he was a cornerstone of our village, graciously and freely joining Mrs. Aaron in giving their presence and resources toward making our city a better place," she said in a statement.
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Aaron made his last public appearance just two weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help spread the message to Black Americans that the vaccine was safe.
Aaron set a wide array of hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. Here's a quick snapshot of his major league accomplishments.
Aaron played with the Milwaukee Braves(1954-1965), Atlanta Braves (1966-1974) and Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76).
Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 and finished his career with 755, a mark that stood for more than 33 years until it was eclipsed by Barry Bonds in 2007.
Aaron was the MLB career leader in RBIs (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856) and played in 25 All-Star Games.
World Series Appearances
In 1957, Aaron was a member of the Braves team that defeated the New York Yankees, 4-3. In a 1958 rematch he was a member of the Braves team that lost to the Yankees, 4-3
Awards and Accolades
National League MVP (1957); NL batting champion (1956, 1959); NL home run leader (1957, 1963, 1966, 1967); NL RBI leader (1957, 1960, 1963, 1966); NL Gold Glove (1958, 1959, 1960); Baseball Hall of Fame (1982); Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002)
Other Noteworthy Accomplishments
Aaron was the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits; he never struck out 100 times in a season; and he was the third player in baseball history after Ken Williams and Willie Mays with at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season (1963). He finished in Top 10 of NL MVP balloting 13 times. He finished with a career average of .305. He was honored in 1999 by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award, which goes to baseball’s top hitter each season. He had 20 straight seasons with at least 20 homers; eight 40-homer seasons and six seasons with more than 20 stolen bases.