Major League Baseball legend and civil-rights icon Hank Aron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, has died at 86.
Photo above: UNDATED: Outfielder Hank Aaron #44 of the Atlanta Braves relaxes in the dugout during a circa 1970s game. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)
On August 1, 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking the home run record, Major League Baseball established the Hank Aaron Award that is given to the best overall hitter in each league. He later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and was inducted as a Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society in 2010. In 2016, Aaron was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors for his work with the World Children’s Baseball Fair.
But Aaron was more than just a baseball player. He fought through horrendous racism in the deep south throughout his career and even received death threats while he was making his historic pursuit of Ruth’s record. All the while, he remained humble and continued to power through every hurdle that was in front of him.
In his bio from the Hall of Fame, a quote from the greatest boxer ever, Muhammad Ali accompanies it that reads Hank Aaron was, “The only man I idolize more than myself.”
A fitting tribute to towering man who left his mark on the baseball field, society, and the fabric of America.
The New York Post said: Aaron broke MLB’s all-time home run mark on April 8, 1974 with No, 715 surpassing Yankees legend Babe Ruth. Aaron overcame death threats as he was fighting to break the mark.
Aaron finished with 755 home runs, a mark that was ultimately passed by Barry Bonds under the stain of PED use. Many still consider Aaron the sport’s true home run leader.
Aaron was well known as one of the true gentleman of the sport, respected by peers and fans for the way he carried himself while breaking baseball’s most-revered record.
“I don’t think too many people got a chance to know me through the years, and that was something that was my own doing, because I’m actually kind of a loner, a guy that has stayed to himself,” Aaron told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2006. “A lot of people thought they knew me, but they really didn’t.