The baseball world has lost a legend. Hank Aaron today passed away at the age of 86.
Many know Aaron as the home run king. The one who broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714. Yet for the younger generation of fans his story gets overlooked and is not as well known. It’s a sad reminder of Major League Baseball’s racist past.
Racism was prevalant when he played and at one one point he said “I had to duck. I had to go out the back door of ballparks. I had to have a police escort…I was getting threatening letters…All of these things put a bad taste in my mouth, & it won’t go away. They carved a piece of my heart away.”
Aaron stood above it all though. He became one of if not the best right-handed hitters in MLB history. He finished his career with .305 batting average, 3,771 hits, 624 doubles, 98 triples, 755 home runs, 2,297 RBI and he stole 240 bases.
He was a civil rights activist. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali said this about Aaron. “The only man I idolize more than myself.”
There aren’t many words to describe the impact Aaron had on this world. He called out former Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker who made derogatory comments about playing in New York by saying that he was “very sick and disgusted about the whole situation.” He went on to say “I have no place in my heart for people who feel that way.”
Rocker then of course apologized.
Social media has poured in tributes for Aaron. Here’s a look at some of them.
— Barry L Bonds (@BarryBonds) January 22, 2021
Hank Aaron has always been a giant—a living legend—whose courage,resilience,&honor inspired millions.He fought for us with every swing of his bat,&paved the way for us to walk in.I was fortunate enough to be able to tell him “thank you” in person. Rest in Power Hammerin’ Hank✊🏾⚾️ pic.twitter.com/g2afouZ77F
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) January 23, 2021
Each time Henry Aaron rounded the bases, he wasn’t just chasing a record, he was helping us chase a better version of ourselves — melting away the ice of bigotry to show that we can be better as a nation. He was an American hero. God bless, Henry “Hank” Aaron.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 23, 2021
Felipe Alou’s statement on the death of his friend Hank Aaron. pic.twitter.com/kZHWLG7dBH
— Peter Kerasotis (@PeterKerasotis) January 23, 2021
Willie Horton on the legacy of his mentor, Hank Aaron. pic.twitter.com/Ax7qFnBYvv
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) January 22, 2021