holder of the record for most career home runs
Henry Louis Aaron was born in
Mobile, Alabama, on
February 5, 1934, the third of eight children. He
attended Central High School as a freshman and
sophomore, where he excelled in softball and
football. After watching Jackie Robinson play
baseball in Mobile, he decided to pursue a
baseball career. In 1949, he tried out for the
Brooklyn Dodgers, but the tryout didn't go well
and he failed to make the team. He finished his
high school years at the Josephine Allen
Institute, a private school in Mobile.
Aaron's dream of becoming a professional
baseball player came true during his junior year
of high school, when he secured a position on the
Mobile Black Bears, a minor Negro League team.
His performance during his first season led to
his being signed by the Negro American League
Indianapolis Clowns, on November 20, 1951. He
went on to help the team win the 1952 Negro
League World Series, while setting a
league-leading .467 batting average.
Signed by the National League's
Milwaukee Braves on June 14, 1952, Aaron spent
his first season playing for the Eau Claire
Bears, the Braves' Class-C farm team. Although he
only played 87 games that season, he racked up
116 base hits, 89 runs, 9 home runs, 61 RBIs, and
a batting average of .336, and was named the
league's Most Valuable Player. In 1953, Aaron was
moved up to the Class-A Jacksonville Tars, where
he led the league with 115 runs, 208 base hits,
36 doubles, 125 RBIs, and .362 batting average,
and was again named Most Valuable Player.
Aaron made the move to the
Major Leagues on April 13, 1954, when he took the
field in place of the injured Bobby Thompson. He
hit his first Major League home run on April 23,
1954, against Cardinals pitcher Vic Raschi. His
.355 batting average earned him the batting
championship in 1959.
When the Braves moved to
Atlanta after the 1965 season, Aaron moved with
them. On May 17, 1970, while playing the
Cincinnati Reds in Atlanta, Aaron became the
first Major League player ever to reach 3,000
career hits and 500+ home runs, and it soon
became apparent that Aaron was destined to break Babe Ruth's record for career home runs. That
destiny was realized on April 8, 1974, when he
hit his 715th homer off Los Angeles Dodgers
pitcher Al Downing. By the end of the 1974 season
Aaron had hit a total of 733 home runs.
Despite his amazing career as a
Brave, Aaron allowed himself to be traded to the
Milwaukee Brewers after the 1974 season. He hit
his 755th, and last, home run at Milwaukee County
Stadium on July 20, 1976, and played his final
game on October 3, 1976.
By the time he retired, Aaron
had played in 22 consecutive All-Star games (a
record), won 3 Golden Gloves (1958, 1959, and
1960), and had played on one World Series
championship team (1957). Although his record of
755 home runs was finally broken by Barry Bonds
in 2007, he still holds Major League records for
total bases (6,856), extra-base hits (1,477), and
runs-batted-in (2,297). Not surprisingly, he was
inaugurated into the Baseball Hall of Fame in
1982, the first year he was eligible, with 97.8%
of the votes cast.
Since retiring from baseball,
Aaron has held corporate positions in various Ted
Turner-owned enterprises. His autobiography, I
Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story, was
published in 1990. Today Aaron is the owner of
luxury car dealerships in Georgia.
Hank Aaron Stadium, home of
the AA Mobile Bay Bears, was dedicated in 1997.
In 1999, Major League Baseball introduced the
Hank Aaron Award, which is given annually to the
best overall offensive performer in the major
leagues. In 2002, President Bush honored him with
the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's
highest civilian honor.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-739
1959 Baseball News and Highlights
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