Meet Muhammad Ali’s idol Hank Aaron, whose baseball record of 755 hits remained unbeaten for over 30 years

Stephen Nartey February 15, 2023
Hank Aaron (Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty Images)

Hank Aaron was baseball’s most celebrated icon in the 1970s. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is quoted to have said he idolized Aaron more than himself, as reported by Baseball Hall.

On the field, Aaron made it a point to excel despite racial slurs and death threats orchestrated to limit his ability. He was thrust into stardom when he surpassed Babe Ruth’s baseball record of 714 home runs to become the new home run king in the 70s.

He hit 755 homers, a record which remained unbeaten for over 30 years, as reported by The New York Times. This history was made on April 8, 1974, in a match against Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

He received countless hate mail and death threats on why a Black man should inch past a white baseball icon. Aaron prevailed and inspired many generations over a period. During 23 seasons in the major leagues between 1954 to 1976, he crushed the records set by other greatest hitters like Ty Cobb and Stan Musial, according to Britannica.

Aaron started his professional career in 1952. He had a short stint with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League where he played shortstop. He got a transfer to the Boston Braves of the National League where he got the opportunity to play with the minor league teams.

Aaron’s major breakthrough was when he played for the Braves as an outfielder in 1954. He won his first league title in 1956 in the batting championship. He scored an average of .328. In 1957, his team won the World Series where he was named the Most Valuable Player of the league.

By 1965, the noted baseball player had hit .398 home runs for the Braves when they relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. He then outstripped Babe Ruth’s 1935 record with his 715th hit in 1974. He was traded to Milwaukee Brewers who were in the American League at the time.

Aaron was originally born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama. He retired from the games in 1976 and took up a job offer with the Braves as an executive. Retiring with 755 career home runs, this record stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants.

Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 13, 1982. In 2002, former President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum was outdoored on the grounds of Hank Aaron Stadium, the home of Mobile, Alabama’s minor league baseball team in 2010.

Aaron died on January 22, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 86.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 15, 2023

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