Long live the hard hitting legend Henry “Hank” Aaron

Unfortunately last week the game of baseball lost one of its greatest players and role models in Henry Louis Aaron at the age of 86, otherwise known as Hank Aaron.

Aaron was born on Feb. 5, 1934, in Mobile, Ala. which at the time was faced by racism and segregation.

The first-ballot Hall of Famer held some of the most impressive records and accolades in the game, some of which included being a 25-time All-Star, being crowned the 1957 National League Most Valuable Player, a three-time gold glove winner, and winning a world series in 1957. To me, Aaron’s most impressive record was holding the all-time record for most home runs for 33 years.

One connection Aaron and I had was the fact that we both knew a man by the name of Clifton Dixon, my grandfather. The stories my grandfather had about Aaron were amazing. The two grew up together and were always playing each other in baseball. One story I remember vividly was the one where my grandfather’s team wouldn’t pitch to Aaron for two whole seasons and would rather him have a walk than a chance to swing. Or another story where at the age of 15 Aaron started to play professional baseball, but his mother would only let him play home games due to school. My favorite story of all was the one where my grandfather told me about the time his team went against Aaron’s and didn’t throw him a single strike, but he still hit two home runs. I would oftentimes watch some of Hank Aaron’s old highlights from his later days with the Braves and Brewers. In almost every hit the ball sounded like it was being shot out of a gun, the power he possessed was absolutely remarkable.  The impact Aaron had on the game of baseball was absolutely remarkable and the stories are even better.

For Aaron baseball came easy but playing in the Major Leagues did not. He very regularly faced segregation, racism, and a whole list of other things. Aaron was seen as an aggressive playmaker on the field, but sweet as honey off of it, one quote that Aaron is most known for was “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.” As mentioned earlier Aaron held the MLB record for the most home runs by a player ever for 33 years, but in most baseball fans’ eyes, they still see Aaron as the all-time leader over the steroid using Barry Bonds.

Other accolades and records Aaron held off the diamond were: having an award named after him for the best overall hitter named “The Hank Aaron Award”, becoming senior vice-president for his former team the Atlanta Braves, and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Aaron was not only a baseball player but was also the author of his autobiography titled ‘I Had a Hammer’.

Hank Aaron will go down as arguably one of the best players in baseball history, but to me he was more than just a baseball player, he was a leader, an activist, and someone to look up to.