People Remembering, Honoring MLB Hall Of Fame And Home Run Champion Hank Aaron: ‘We Celebrate His Life Confronting Racism Fearlessly And Honor His Commitment To Civil Rights And Service To All’
MVP. Twenty-five-time All Star. World Series champion. Three-time Gold Glove winner. Two-time batting title champion. Second in MLB history with 755 home runs. Hall of Fame.
That right there is an accomplished resume. But, it’s also the impact the beloved Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron (the National Baseball Hall of Fame details his life story) had off-the-field in why so many people from all over are honoring and remembering Aaron.
Presidential Medal of Freedom. Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award. Per the National Park Service, Hank Aaronwas also awarded these prestigious awards.
Aaron was also “a longtime supporter of civil rights organizations”, the NAACP established the Hank Aaron Humanitarian in Sports Award, and Aaron started up a foundation with his wife that’s known as the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation per NPS.
On January 22, the Atlanta Braves released a statement: “It is with great sadness we share the passing of our home run king, Hank Aaron, who passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 86.”
“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.We are heartbroken and thinking of his wife Billye and their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorinda and Ceci and his grandchildren.”
Terry McGuirk, Braves Chairman
So many people are remembering and honoring Aaron, reflecting on the special memories they shared with him:
ESPN details his career on-the-field: “One of the sport’s great stars despite playing for the small-market Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves throughout a major league career that spanned from 1954 to 1976, Aaron still holds major league records for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477), and he ranks among MLB’s best in hits (3,771, third all time), games played (3,298, third) and runs scored (2,174, fourth)”.
According to NPS: “The baseball icon also spoke out against pervasive racism in major league baseball and broke racial barriers throughout his career. Despite hate mail, death threats against him and a plan to kidnap one of his daughters, Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s homerun record on April 8, 1974 when he hit his 715th homerun. At the end of his career, “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron had a total of 755 (home) runs”.
When Aaron hit that 715th home run, making history, ESPN details the impact that moment had when Aaron ran the bases:
“…it was his three-year pursuit of Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 home runs that elevated him into an enduring national figure. The record-breaking home run (in) 1974…at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, provided one of the most lasting images in the sport and also one of its most poignant moments…The image of him rounding second base escorted by two jubilant white fans who had leaped onto the field became one of the most iconic in sports…Over the years, Aaron would be praised for his quiet resolve and dignity in the face of the threats. He would dine with international heads of state and every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama, but the negative response from so many of his countrymen was a scar he would carry for the rest of his life.”
Howard Bryant, ESPN: “Hank Aaron’s lasting impact is measured in more than home runs”
“It was supposed to be the greatest triumph of my life, but I was never allowed to enjoy it,” Aaron once said per ESPN. “I couldn’t wait for it to be over. The only reason that some people didn’t want me to succeed was because I was a Black man.”
Here’s some more Hank Aaron quotes (per USA Today Sports For The Win):
- “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”
- “Making the majors is not as hard as staying there, staying interested day after day. It’s like being married. The hardest part is to stay married.”
- “The pitcher has got only a ball. I’ve got a bat. So the percentage in weapons is in my favor and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting.”
- “Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.”
- “I’m hoping someday that some kid, black or white, will hit more home runs than myself. Whoever it is, I’d be pulling for him.”
If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can pay tribute to Aaron on Wednesday:
“The Braves welcome fans to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Henry Aaron by visiting his statue inside of Monument Garden at Truist Park (from 1-6pm),” the Braves announced. “Fans can enter the ballpark through the First Base Gate…Additionally, fans are welcome to visit the Plaza Stage in The Battery Atlanta to honor Henry Aaron…social distancing and masks required”.
Just keep swinging, just keep going in life, as you honor Aaron’s legacy today.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
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