Hank Aaron

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Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (1934–), who held the Major League Baseball home run record from 1974 to 2007, broke ground for the participation of African Americans in professional sports. Hank was born in Mobile, Alabama, during the Great Depression. He was the son of a shipyard worker and had seven brothers and sisters. Although times were economically difficult, Aaron took an early interest in sports and began playing sandlot baseball at a neighborhood park. In his junior year of high school he transferred out of a segregated school to attend the Allen Institute in Mobile, which had an organized baseball program. He played on amateur and semi-pro teams like the Pritchett Athletics and the Mobile Black Bears, where he began to make a name for himself.

Hank Aaron moved on to the Negro Leagues to play shortstop for the Indianapolis Clowns, where his talent and ability were quickly noticed. While trying out for the Clowns, Aaron was scouted by the then famous talent scout Dewey Griggs of the Boston Braves and eventually the Braves won out over the Giants, who were also vying for his services. In 1952, Hank Aaron was named the Northern League's Rookie of the Year, batting .336, despite playing in just 87 games. The following year he was promoted to the South Atlantic League (as that circuit's first African-American player) and earned Most Valuable Player honors by winning the batting title (.362), and leading the league in runs batted in (125), runs (115) and hits (208).

Aaron began his major league career in 1954 (he was the last Negro League player to play in the major leagues) when a spring training injury to Bobby Thomson opened up a spot on the Braves roster. He won his first of two National League batting titles in 1956 with a .328 mark and reached the coveted 200 hits level for the first time. [2008] During every season he played as a Brave, Hank posted the consistently great numbers that were to become his trademark. He won another batting title in 1959 (.355), led the league in slugging (.636), and achieved his only three home run game in his career versus the Giants.

Hank Aaron always kept himself in peak physical condition; a typical Aaron season for 19 years was to average 33 HR, drive in and score 100 runs or more, and hit .300. Hank often attributed his remarkable consistency to something Jackie Robinson had said to him early in his career. "He said, baseball was a game you played every day, not once a week," said Aaron speaking of Robinson. [2008] As his career moved into the sixties he was once was denied a shot at winning the 1963 Triple Crown with league leading totals in HR (44) and RBI (130), while settling for third in batting average (.319). That year he also joined baseball's exclusive 30/30 club (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases) by stealing 31 bases.

Formerly baseball's all-time home-run king, Aaron played 23 years as an outfielder for the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves and Milwaukee Brewers (1954–76). He holds many of baseball's most distinguished records, including runs batted in (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), total bases (6,856) and most years with 30 or more home runs (15). He is also in the top five for career hits and runs. [2008] When Hank Aaron retired in 1976, he was major league baseball's leading home run hitter with a career total of 755.

See also

References

  • www.baseball-almanac.com/players/hank_aaron_biography.shtml