Hank Aaron: A legend for the ages

Quin Norris, Sports Editor

On January 22, 2021 the baseball world lost one of its great heroes. 

Hank Aaron also known by many as “Hammerin’ Hank” passed away from natural causes, according to the Fulton County medical examiner. 

This death was a major loss for the sport as Aaron’s role in helping change the stigma around African American athletes is more than what can be stated. He was just as vital as the great Jackie Robinson in his own way as his career started in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves who soon became the Atlanta Braves. This meant that, during the height of this slugger’s career, he was playing in Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement. 

To get across just how impressive Aaron was during his time in the league, he had a batting average of .305, he recorded 3,771 hits, he had 755 home runs and he batted in 2,297 runs. These incredible achievements led to 25 All-Star bids, a National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1957, 3 Golden Glove Awards, 2 NL batting championships, 4-time NL home run leader, 4-time NL Runs Batted In (RBI) leader and a World Series championship in 1957. 

For as great as Aaron was on the field, he was even more of a leader off of it as well.  During his time in the league becoming a face to bigotry in the country, Aaron was quite vocal on issues in the country as he received numerous death threats leading up to his chase of breaking Babe Ruth’s homerun record. His bravery and steadfast attitude became an inspiration to people everywhere. 

By all accounts, Aaron was known to be one of the kindest souls around and was said to more than willing to talk to anyone. To further this point, one of his last acts was to get the COVID-19 vaccine to encourage his fans to also get vaccinated. 

Futhermore, Aaron has no shortage of accolades to his name as his number has been retired by the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He has also been inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame, American Family Field Walk of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot receiving 97.8% of eligible votes.   

Aaron still holds records for career runs batted in (2,297), career total bases (6,856), career extra-base hits (1,477) and career all-star appearances (25). It is important to never let the memory of this man, this legend die as he was instrumental in the acceptance of African American athletes and absolutely dominated his sport for over 20 years.