Aaron, Hank


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Aaron, Hank

Aaron, Hank (Henry Louis Aaron), 1934–2021, U.S. baseball player, b. Mobile, Ala. A durable outfielder and consistent hitter noted for his powerful wrists and explosive swing, Aaron joined the Negro Leagues' Indianapolis Clowns at 18, but he was soon acquired by the Boston (soon to be Milwaukee) Braves and played in the minor leagues. He was among the first African Americans to play a full career (23 years) in the major leagues, with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves (1954–74) and with the Milwaukee Brewers (1975–76). During his first season with the Braves he led the team in hits, and he is third, behind only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, in career hits (3,771). In 1974 “Hammerin' Hank” broke Babe Ruth's legendary lifetime mark of 714 home runs, eventually setting a record of 755 homers, which held until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007. Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, Aaron is baseball's career leader in runs batted in (2,297) and extra-base hits (1,477) and was an All Star a record 25 times. He was the National League's most valuable player in 1957 and won three Gold Gloves. In 1976 he became one of the first black executives in the game, beginning a long tenure in the Atlanta Braves front office. He also had a successful business career.

Bibliography

See his autobiography, I Had a Hammer (with L. Wheeler, 1991, repr. 2007); H. Bryant, The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron (2010).

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Aaron, (Henry Louis) Hank

(1934–  ) baseball player/executive; born in Mobile, Ala. Baseball's all-time homerun king, he played 23 years as an outfielder for the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves and Milwaukee Brewers (1954–76). He holds many of baseball's most distinguished records, including most lifetime runs batted in (2,297), most years with 30 or more homeruns (15), and most career homeruns (755). Breaking the latter record, baseball's most venerable since Babe Ruth retired with 714 homeruns in 1935, was both a triumph and a trial for Aaron. He was beseiged by the media and badgered by racist letter-writers who resented Aaron breaking Ruth's record. A complete player whose skills were never fully appreciated until he broke the record in 1974, Aaron was voted the National League Most Valuable Player only once (1957). After retiring as a player, he moved into the Atlanta Braves front office as executive vice-president, where he has been a leading spokesperson for minority hiring in baseball. Nicknamed, "Hammerin' Henry," he was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1982. His autobiography, I Had a Hammer, was published in 1990.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.