Hank Aaron was not just a regular baseball player who simply played his game and retired later on. He was a name of sheer force and incredible willpower. Henry Aaron was a man of golden heart, who became known not just due to his game. There were several aspects of Aaron that made him what he’s today.
Hammerin’ Hank was someone who completely changed the history of baseball. He not only fought racism with bravery but also became an advocate and voice of many baseball players. Major League Baseball is to date thankful to Hank Aaron for his wonderful innings. In the field as well as off the field, changing the perspective of the world of sports. That’s why baseball cards of Hank Aaron are some of the most popular and most expensive in the industry.
Today, let’s remember Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron after one year of his demise and understand what he meant to the world of baseball.
Career Highlight of Hammerin’ Hank
Hank Aaron was first signed in 1951 on behalf of Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. His spectacular play highlighted him among the MLB officials. Later Aaron received offers from New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves. But Henry Aaron chose Milwaukee Braves. Some people believe he choose Milwaukee Braves because he liked them. Or he was more inclined towards them.
However, the reality was revealed by Hank himself in a rather comic way. He told in an interview that it was just fifty dollars that kept him away from being teammates with Willie Mays. Milwaukee Braves offered him fifty dollars more than New York Giants.
Hammerin’ Hank made history with Milwaukee Braves. He made records and received accolades for that. In 1975, Aaron was acquired by Milwaukee Brewers, after contract expiration with Milwaukee Braves. When Hank’s contract expired, he considered retirement, however decided against it and told in an interview that he would be available for another year. Thus, Milwaukee Brewers acquired him and signed him for two years.
Fans to date think what if Henry Aaron had really retired at that time? Because if he did, then how could he have broken the record of Babe Ruth? In 1975 Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run and broke the record of 714 home runs.
Record Breaking Hit and Racism
Since the start of his career, Aaron faced racism. A black man among the whites? In the 1900s it was seen as a horrific nightmare. When Henry Aaron was still a part of Indianapolis Clowns, he shared a painful incident in an interview. He told that after the team had breakfast, they waited in the restaurant till the rain stopped. While sitting there, they heard the restaurant breaking crockery as black people ate in it. Henry further said that if animals had eaten in those utensils, the restaurant had cleaned them off, but it was black men who were filth.
During his minor league era with MLB, he kept on facing racism but didn’t give up. But the record-breaking racism Henry Aaron faced was when he was near to breaking the record of Babe Ruth. He kept on receiving a letter with endless hate, racism, rage, and the newspapers were filled with bile and vitriol. Due to the color of Henry’s skin, he also faced death threats.
In such a stance and extreme racist commentary, the message of the widow of Babe Ruth came out as a positive ray of hope. She denounced the racism and declared that if her husband would have been alive, he would have appreciatively cheered Aaron’s effort to break the record.
Even after such a statement, Henry Aaron still faced racist remarks as he dared to change a sacred record made by a white man. And when the record was finally broken, Aaron still faced death threats as he showed guts to challenge the record of a white baseball icon and broke it.
Did you know? Henry Hank Aaron received death threats and abusive mails when he again dared to challenge the political narrative for black people. He faced white resentment and bitterness all over again.
Changing the World of Baseball
Hank Aaron became the Vice President and the Director of Player Development of the Milwaukee Braves. He became the first minority player who joined the upper management of the MLB. This paved a way for the future generation of black people to dream of becoming an essential part of management.
Allan Huber “Bud” Selig, baseball commissioner and a white man was fond of Hank Aaron. When in 2007, MLB announced the sale of Atlanta Braves, Bud Selig announced that Henry would form a program that will encourage an influx of minorities into baseball. It was that point that helped Aaron in founding the “Hank Aaron Rookie League” program. Without any discrimination over the cast, color, or creed, the program helped every rookie player to become MLB’s true hero.
Hank Aaron was also part of the 1978 visit to the White House invitation. Being a black man, he made sure the voice of every minority is heard. Aaron himself faced segregation in hotels, restaurants, and parks. Sometimes because of his color while other times due to security concerns. The hatred for him to break Babe Ruth’s record made it difficult for him to walk without security.
But his persistence and patience paid it off for later players. Today, in the world of baseball, every black man is treated the same way. These minorities are now sitting in upper management, making decisions all because of Hank Aaron and his advocacy for the right of black men.
Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron did change the world of baseball and its perspective for every single player. Instead of getting pride when he broke the home run record, Aaron simply stated that this will inspire every player to chase their dreams and never give up. Even when his record was broken after 33 years, he congratulated Barry Bonds will full heart and happiness.
Hank Aaron was a man with no jealousy and hatred for anyone.