Rest in Peace, Hank Aaron...
One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Henry Louis Aaron came from humble beginnings. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, he began practicing baseball by hitting bottle caps with sticks as his family could not afford baseball equipment. His high school did not have a baseball team, but he played outfield and third base for the Mobile Black Bears, a semi-pro team, and went on to play for the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro American League. On June 12, 1952, Aaron signed on with the Braves and earned a Braves major league contract by 1954. During this time of segregation in the 1950s, he faced constant racism but refused to give up.
After fracturing his ankle in the fall of that first year of MLB play, Aaron changed his number to lucky 44. He went on to hit 44 home runs in four different seasons. By 1973, as he grew closer to potentially surpassing Babe Ruth's home run record, Aaron received death threats and extensive hate mail from people who did not want to see him break Ruth's record and in response to the bigotry, an outpouring of public support. He received 930,000 pieces of mail that year, more than any person (excluding politicians). At age 39, in 1974, he hit his record-breaking 715th career home run off Dodger's pitcher Al Downing, who coincidentally also wore number 44.
Aaron's 755 career home runs stood as the MLB record for 33 years. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
Thank you, Hand Aaron, for showing us how to dream big, stay strong and never give up.
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