Hank Aaron “Hammerin’ Hank”
Born Henry Louis Aaron, to Aaron Sr. and Estelle Aaron on the 5th of February 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, Henry Aaron is the senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves Baseball team and a retired MLB right fielder.
Henry was nicknamed the “Hammer”, “Bad Henry” or “Hammerin’ Hank” in his playing days. He earned his nicknames by hitting the most home runs in all of baseball history (at the time), a total of 755.
Aaron started off playing outfield and third base for a semi-pro team, the Mobile Black Bears, as there was an absence of organized baseball in his high school at the time. There, Aaron began to display his prowess as a hitter and earned himself his first tryout in 1949. He was just 15 years old, and sadly, did not make the team.
In 1951, Ed Scott, a baseball scout, secured Aaron a contract with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. Aaron played with the team for three months, earning $200 per month. He had a .366 batting average, 5 home runs, 33 RBIs, 9 stolen bases, and 41 hits in his 26 games in the Negro League.
In 1952, Boston Braves’ scout Dewey Griggs signed Aaron to the team, and he was purchased for $10,000 from the Clowns. He had received two offers from the New York Giants and the Braves, and he opted for Boston club. He was assigned to the Eau Claire Bears, the Northern League Class-C farm team, where he played infield and later made the Northern Leagues All-Star team. By the end of the season, Aaron was voted ‘Rookie of the Year’.
Aaron was bumped up to the Braves’ Class-A affiliate team, the Jacksonville Braves, in 1953, and the team won the league championship that year. It was a great baseball year for Aaron, bagging the MVP award again. He had a .362 batting average, 115 runs, 208 hits, 36 doubles, 338 total bases, and 125 RBIs. He finished the year playing in Puerto Rico in the winter, where the team’s manager Mickey Owen helped Aaron improve his skills even more.
Aaron trained with the Braves’ major league club while still on the farm team in the spring of 1954. On March 13th that year, Bobby Thomson fractured his ankle, and Aaron started training with the major league team full-time. On the last day of training camp, he signed a major league contract and secured the team’s number 5 shirt.
Aaron batted .280 with 13 home runs in 122 games before he fractured his ankle in September. After recovery, he changed his number to 44, hitting .314 with 27 home runs and 106 RBI in 1955.
The next year, he secured an NL batting title and was named The Sporting News NL Player of the Year.
In 1958, Aaron earned the Braves another pennant, however, they lost to the Yankees in a seven-game World Series. He hit .326 with 30 home runs and 95 RBI and was awarded his first Gold Glove Award.
The Braves relocated to Atlanta after the 1965 season, and in 1968, Aaron hit his 500th home run in his career, becoming the first Atlanta Brave to hit 500 career home runs.
On the 20th of July, 1976, Aaron hit his 755th and last home run at the Milwaukee County Stadium. This homerun record lasted for years until it was broken in 2007 by Barry Bonds. He initially broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns to take over the all-time lead.
In his 23 years’ career, Aaron had a batting average of .305 and an average of 163 hits a season, with an average of over 32 home runs and 99 RBI per year.
• World Series champion and NL MVP in 1957
• 3 times Gold Glove Award (1958 – 1960)
• 25 times All-Star from 1955-1975
• 2 times NL batting champion (1956 & 1959)
• 4 times NL home run leader (1957, 1963, 1966 & 1967)
• 4 times NL RBI leader (1957, 1960, 1963 & 1966)
• Atlanta Braves No. 44 retired
• Milwaukee Brewers No. 44 retired
• Braves Hall of Fame
• Miller Park Walk of Fame
• Major League Baseball All-Century Team
• 2,297 career RBI
• 6,856 career total bases
• 1,477 career extra-base hits
After retirement in 1976, Aaron returned to the Braves as an executive, and with 97.8% votes, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He went on to establish a foundation aimed at promoting youth development, which he named the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation.