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Hank Aaron: 1934-2021

Hank Aaron: 1934-2021

September 8, 1955. "Hank Aaron standing in front of his locker with misspelled name in the Milwaukee Braves locker room." Photo by Phillip Harrington for Look magazine. View full size.

Hank Aaron, Home Run King
Who Defied Racism, Dies at 86

        Hank Aaron, who faced down racism as he eclipsed Babe Ruth as baseball’s home run king, hitting 755 homers and holding the most celebrated record in sports for more than 30 years, died today in Atlanta. He was 86. -- New York Times

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Charlie Grim and the boys

In the mid 50s my friends and I would frequently conclude watching a Milwaukee Braves game far outweighed the educational opportunities of Horace Mann Junior High School in West Allis, Wisconsin. The school was only a couple miles from Milwaukee County Stadium, so we could meet our academic responsibilities in the morning, and just not return after lunch. (My older sister was an invaluable resource by providing the note I needed the next day from my mom, justifying the absence.) But the real beauty was we could watch the games free. One of my co-conspirators had learned of a seating area the VA had set up on their property on top of a high steep hill that overlooked right field (Andy Pafko) of the ball park. The seating was provided for residents of the VA facility and we were always welcome to join them. One of us always had a portable radio and we listened to the play-by-play from Earl Gillespie as we watched from high on the hill. Henry Aaron of course was someone we always looked forward to seeing at bat, hoping for a homer with each pitch. Times were good.

Move over Babe

Rest in peace Hammer.

A piece of my heart

I was in Grade 11 when Aaron hit number 715, and I remember the historical impact of the moment. Thank you, Dave, for the link to the NYT article. It saddened me to read of all the racist crap, and I was moved when Aaron is quoted as having said about all the incidents: “All of these things have put a bad taste in my mouth, and it won’t go away. They carved a piece of my heart away.” He added, in 1994: “Any Black who thinks the same thing can’t happen today is sadly mistaken. It happens now with people in three-piece suits instead of with hoods on.”

My Henry Aaron memory

Had a friend in college here in Houston who hailed from Richmond Va, the home of the Braves’ AAA club. He loved Hank and the Braves. We went to the Astrodome in September of '73 with Hank sitting on 711 dingers. We were lucky enough to see him hit #712 that Saturday night. We went back on Sunday hoping that with some luck he’d hit two and we could at least see him tie Ruth. But he sat that one out. Still a fun memory.

We got some sort of little certificate on our way out of the Dome with his photo and "I saw #712". I’ve got in buried in one of my many boxes of memorabilia.

I always got a kick out of the fact that he and Al Downing were both wearing my college number (44) when Downing gave up #714.

RIP, Henry Aaron

Arron? Makes you wonder doesn't it.

Watched an interview with him, he said breaking the home run record made his life miserable, death threats, kidnapping threats, etc to him and his family. Makes me sick to my stomach thinking about the pain and misery we brought on these magnificent human beings when we should have been lifting them up. Forgive us.

Hank?

I learned from the NY Times obituary of Aaron that he never liked being called Hank. What an annoyance to have to go through life seeing your name in the headlines with a nickname you can't stand.

My first baseball game

At the first pro baseball game I ever attended, in 1953, Hank Aaron played for the Jacksonville Braves. Aaron hit 22 home runs that season and I believe I saw one of them, though that particular memory might be influenced by the following 23 years. (In this photo he's standing at far right.)

Henry Was Consistent.

Here's how to hit 755 home runs: start early, and end late. Henry hit 37 HRs at age 21, and 40 (in just 120 games) at age 39. His stats are especially impressive for a man who played half his career in the pitching-dominant 1960s.

Looking at his stats online, I just noticed something for the first time: Henry received votes for MVP for 19 consecutive years. That must be a record.

RIP

I remember when he hit 714; we lived in Atlanta and although I was only 17 and living in an all-female household and not yet a baseball fan, Hank's accomplishment was so celebrated that even those who weren't paying attention, sat up and took notice. There was such joy in the air. Four years and four months later, when my soon-to-be husband took me on our first date to see the Chicago White Sox defeat the Kansas City Royals 4-0 at old Comiskey Park, and in the ensuing years, he taught me about many of the greats, including Hank Aaron. Now we're die hard Cub fans but we love and have utmost respect for all baseball legends. Rest in Peace, Hank.

Arron? Really?

For the love of Pete. How long did it stay like that?

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