Baseball Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron dies at 86

Sports

FILE – In this May 17, 1970, file photo, Atlanta Braves’ Hank Aaron, center, who became the ninth player in Major League history to get 3,000 hits, kisses a baseball alongside Famer Stan Musial and Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, in Cincinnati. Bartholomay, the former Braves owner who moved the team from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, died Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to his daughter, Jamie. He was 91. Bartholomay sold the Braves to Ted Turner in 1976 but remained as chairman of the team’s board of directors until 2003, when he assumed an emeritus role. (AP Photo/Gene Smith, File)

(NEXSTAR) — Baseball Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron died Friday at the age of 86, reported WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1934, Aaron briefly played in the Negro Leagues and minor leagues during his youth. He made his MLB debut at age 20 and started his 23-year career with the Milwaukee Braves, now known as the Atlanta Braves.

Aaron, who became known as “Hammerin’ Hank,” would go on to set the career home run record, surpassing Babe Ruth. The record would later be broken by Barry Bonds during baseball’s steroid era.

The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, a time when the civil rights movement had been gaining momentum for more than a decade.

“Honestly, I was scared coming to a high-profile city like Atlanta,” Aaron once told Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein. “Knowing that Dr. King was here, Andy Young and some of the other great civil rights leaders that made their home here, and I’m coming from Milwaukee where there was no activity at all … It makes you start thinking about what it is, what can you do, what role you can play. And makes you feel like you kind of shortchanged everybody really, you didn’t do your job.”

Boxing great Muhammad Ali once famously said Aaron was the only man he idolized “more than myself.”

Earlier this month, Aaron, along with former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and other civil rights leaders, were vaccinated against COVID-19.

They hoped to send a message to Black Americans in particular that the shots are safe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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