A Look Into The Career Of Henry "Hank" Aaron
Hank Aaron was one of the greatest players ever to play in the majors. Was the all time homerun leader with 755, until Barry Bonds broke the record in 2007 and finished with 762.
- Early In Baseball For Aaron
- With The Milwaukee Braves
- During The Atlanta Years
- Becoming The New Homerun King
- End Of A Era
- After Baseball
- Final Thoughts
- My Thoughts
Early In Baseball For Aaron
Born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. Hank played third and shortstop while he was in high school. In 1951 he quit school and played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. He led the team to the league's 1952 World Series. After that he did not stay with the Clowns, Aaron was recruited the following June to the Milwaukee Braves for $10,000. Aaron started to play for the Milwaukee Braves minor league team named the Eau Claire Bears.
With The Milwaukee Braves
In spring training game, Bobby Thomson, a left fielder for the Braves, slid into second base, that was March 13, 1954. The next day Aaron was starting his first spring training game and hitting a homerun for the Braves. Because of that Aaron was giving a major league contract and an uniform. In 122 games for the Braves, Hank Aaron had hit .280 with 13 homeruns.
Prime of his career
In 1955, Aaron appeared in his first All- Star Game, which the first of 21 All- Star Game appearances which record tying. In 1956 he won his first batting title with a .328 batting average.
In 1957 Aaron won the National League MVP, as he batted .322 and led the league in homeruns and runs batted in. On September 23, 1957, Aaron hit a two-run walk-off in Milwaukee, clinching the pennant for the Braves and Aaron was carried off the field by his teammates. Milwaukee went on to win the World Series against the New York Yankees. Aaron did his part by hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBI.
In 1958, Aaron hit .326, with 30 home runs and 95 RBIs. He led the Braves to another pennant, but this time they lost a seven-game World Series to the Yankees. Aaron finished third in the MVP race, but he picked up his first Gold Glove.
Aaron nearly won the triple crown in 1963. He led the league with 44 home runs and 130 RBI and finished third in batting average. In that season, Aaron became the third player to steal 30 bases and hit 30 home runs in a single season. Despite that, he again finished third in the MVP voting.
After the 1965 season the Braves had moved the team from Milwaukee to Atlanta.
During The Atlanta Years
Home run milestones and 3,000th hit
During Aaron's days in Atlanta, he had some of the key milestones during his career. Aaron became only the eighth player in Major League history to hit 500 career homeruns. Getting his 500th coming against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14, 1968, exactly one year after former teammate Eddie Mathews had hit his 500th. He was, at the time, the second-youngest player to attain that plateau.
When Aaron hit his 537th home run on July 31, 1969, he had moved into third place in the all time homerun list passing Mickey Mantle and just behind Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.
During the 1970 season, Hank Aaron had reached two more milestones. On May 17, Aaron collected his 3,000th hit, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, the team against which he played his first game. He was the first player to get 3,000 career hits and 500 career home runs. Also during that year, Aaron established the record for most seasons with thirty or more home runs in the National League.
On April 27, 1971, Aaron hit his 600th career home run, the third player ever to do so. On July 31, Aaron hit a home run in the All-Star Game (played at Detroit's Tiger Stadium) for the first time. He hit his 40th home run of the season against the Giants' Jerry Johnson on August 10, which established a National League record for most seasons with 40 or more home runs (seven). At age 37, he hit a career-high 47 home runs during the season (along with a career-high .669 slugging percentage)
During the strike-shortened season of 1972, Aaron tied and then surpassed Willie Mays for second place on the career home run list. Aaron also knocked in the 2,000th run of his career and hit a home run in the first All-Star game played in Atlanta. As the year came to a close, Aaron broke Stan Musial's major league record for total bases (6,134).
While many expected Aaron to break Ruth's home run record in 1973, a key moment of the season came on August 6. This was Hank Aaron Day in Wisconsin and the Braves played the Milwaukee Brewers in an exhibition game. The guests in attendance included Aaron's first manager with the Braves, Charlie Grimm, his teammate from Jacksonville, Felix Mantilla, Eau Claire president Ron Berganson, and Del Crandall, the catcher for the 1957 world champion Braves and the-then manager of the Brewers.
The only position that the Braves wanted Aaron to play was as the designated hitter because the game was held in an American League park; at that time, however, the National League prohibited use of the DH even in scrimmages. Because National League president Chub Feeney could not be contacted, it was left to the umpire, Bruce Froemming to make the decision. Froemming ignored the rule, allowing Aaron to be the DH for the Braves. Later on, National League officials ignored the infraction.
Becoming The New Homerun King
Even though Aaron down played the "chase" for the homerun record, baseball enthusiasts and the national media grew increasingly excited as he closed in on the record in 1973. Aaron hit 40 home runs in 392 at-bats, at the age of 39. By the end of the 1973 season Aaron ended up one short of the homerun record.
During the off season Hank Aaron was the recipient of death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see a black man break Ruth's nearly sacrosanct home run record.
As the 1974 season began, Aaron's chase of the homerun record caused a small controversy. The Braves opened the season on the road in Cincinnati with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Braves management wanted him to break the record in Atlanta, and were therefore going to have Aaron sit out the first three games of the season. But Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that he had to play two games in the first series. He played two out of three, tying Babe Ruth's record in his very first at bat off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham, but did not hit another home run in the series.
The team returned to Atlanta, and on April 8, 1974, a crowd of 53,775 people showed up for the game—a Braves attendance record. In the fourth inning, Aaron hit career home run number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. Although Dodgers outfielder Bill Buckner nearly went over the outfield wall trying to catch it, the ball landed in the Braves' bullpen, where relief pitcher Tom House caught it.
End Of A Era
On October 5, 1974, Aaron hit his 733rd and final home run as a Brave, which stood as the National League's home run record until it was broken in 2007. One month later, the Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers for Roger Alexander and Dave May. On May 1, 1975, Aaron broke baseball's all-time RBI record, previously held by Babe Ruth with 2,217. That year, he also made the last of his 21st record-tying (with Musial and Mays) All-Star appearances; he lined out to Dave Concepción as a pinch-hitter in the second inning. This All-Star game, like his first in 1955, was before a home crowd at Milwaukee County Stadium.
On July 20, 1976, Hank Aaron hit his 755th and final home run at Milwaukee County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels.
After receiving votes on 98.2% of the ballets, Hank Aaron was elected into the Baseball's Hall of Fame on August 1, 1982.
On February 5, 1999, at his 65th birthday celebration, Major League Baseball announced the introduction of the Hank Aaron Award. The award was set to honor the best overall offensive performer in the American and National League.
In July 2000 and also in July 2002, Aaron threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, played at Turner Field and Miller Park, respectively.
In 2006, a recreational trail in Milwaukee connecting Miller Park with Lake Michigan along the Menomonee River was dedicated as the "Hank Aaron State Trail." Hank Aaron was on hand for the dedication along with Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who at the ceremony described himself as a boyhood fan of Aaron's.
Hank Aaron has had an awesome career in the majors. Here are some of his credits that made his career so great.....
*21 All Star games (his first and last All Star game he played was at Milwaukee County Stadium)
*World Series champion (1957)
*3× Gold Glove Award winner (1958, 1959, 1960)
*2× NL batting title (1956, 1959)
*4× NL home run champion (1957, 1963, 1966, 1967)
*1957 NL MVP
*1970 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
*Atlanta Braves #44 retired
*Milwaukee Brewers #44 retired
*Major League Baseball All-Century Team
*6,856 total bases
*1,477 extra-base hits
*17 consecutive seasons with 150 or more hits
*Batting average: .305
*Home runs: 755
*Runs batted in: 2,297
Hank Aaron is one of my favorite players. I never had seen him play but have read about him. Also when he played with the Braves in Milwaukee and again with the Brewers he also mentioned that he had enjoyed playing in Milwaukee and had found memories here in Milwaukee.