From humble upbringing in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron stood on this Earth and made it a better place for 87 years. He died on January 22 as one of baseball's home run kings.
"When I was growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I taught myself how to hit by swinging at bottle caps with a broomstick. When you don’t have a lot, you take it upon yourself to learn how to do things, to discover what you are capable of."
Henry Louis Aaron, nicknamed Hank "Hammer" Aaron, was an American baseball player who played 23 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1954 through 1976. He spent 21 seasons with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) and two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League (AL). He is regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
In August 2020, Aaron wrote about his Negro Leagues experience for the foreword of the upcoming book Comeback Season, "When I was growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I taught myself how to hit by swinging at bottle caps with a broomstick," he wrote. Read more of his writings.
His 755 career home runs broke Babe Ruth's MLB record that stood for 33 years. Aaron still holds many other MLB batting records. He hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973, and he is one of only two players in MLB history to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least 15 seasons.
Hank Aaron was remembered by longtime broadcaster Bob Costas during a video message played during the service. Costas talked about how Aaron skipped school and climbed a tree to watch Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers play an exhibition game in Mobile in 1948.
“There was no way to know that kid would go on to become, in many respects, the most significant baseball player since Jackie Robinson himself,” Costas said in the vide, “That that kid would take the baton from his idol and inspiration and carry it so well, so honorably and for so long. Now, that glorious race has been fully run.”
Those who had the privilege to know Aaron also appreciated his sense of humor and brutal honesty. Braves chairman Terry McGuirk remembers during a Turner Broadcasting board meeting during the late 1980s Aaron was asked for his opinion on the team's woes, to which he replied “The team is so slow, it would take four singles to score a run.”
Clinton’s friendship with Aaron began in 1992, when the Hall of Famer agreed to campaign for him in his presidential race against incumbent George H. W. Bush. More than 20,000 people came to hear Clinton and Aaron speak one day at Decatur High School. Clinton carried Georgia by 13,000 votes. Until the 2020 Presidential election, this was the only other time a Democrat won the state since Jimmy Carter won his home state in 1976.
“For the rest of his life, he never let me forget who was responsible for winning,” Clinton said at his funeral. “Hank Aaron never bragged about anything, except carrying Georgia for me in 1992.”
One of Aaron's grandchildren, Raynal Aaron, who served in the U.S. Army, said one of his favorite quotes from his grandfather was, “I don’t want them to forget Ruth, I just want them to remember me.”
Rest in peace, Hank Aaron. Many will forever remember your name, and the great impact you've had in your wonderful life.