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200px-Hank_Aaron_.jpg (15829 bytes)


Athlete (1934-)

Born on Feb 5, 1934, one day before Babe Ruth's 39th birthday.  Hank Aaron was the 3rd of Estela and Herbert Aaron.  He was born in Alabama during the Great Depression as the son of a poor boilermaker's helper.  His father was happy to support the five of them with $75 to $80 a week.  As a youngster Hank stayed out of trouble because he was constantly playing baseball.  Baseball equipment was not easy to get so he practiced in his yard with a ball of tightly wound rags.  When he finally got a hold of a rubber ball, he used one of his mother's broomsticks to smack it against the side of the house. 

When Hank was growing up in the 1930s, the schools were racially segregated so Henry, who was an African-American, went to an all-Black grammar school.  After grammar school he went to Mobile's Central High School.  They didn't have a baseball team so he joined the fast-pitch softball team.  During his spare time, he played baseballs for a local sandlot team.   Hank's boyhood hero was Jackie Robinson.  By this time in high school, Hank knew he wanted to be a baseball player. 

Then one day during a league softball game, the talented teenager was approached by Ed Scott, who was a scout for the Mobile Black Bears.  Hank began to play with the Bears for $10 a game until he turned 18 and then he signed with the Indianapolis Clowns to play for $200 per month.  Indianapolis played 8-10 games a week which was tiring, but it paid off when a scout for the Braves, Dewey Griggs came to talk to Hank about moving up to the big leagues.  They immediately set up a contract and moved him to their minor league system.  After only playing 18 games there, Hank made the All-Star team.  The same season Hank won the Sally league's Most Valuable Player award. 

He then met a woman named Barbara Lucas, and within a few months, they became engaged and then were married on Oct, 13, 1953.  On March 13, 1954, the Braves veteran outfielder Bobby Thompson broke his ankle sliding into third.  The next day Hank Aaron was called up to play left field.  Hank's rookie season had been doing pretty good until he broke an ankle sliding into third base.  Hank would finish the season on the bench.  In 1955, Hank was moved from left to right field, where he would play during most of his career.  He was the fifth best hitter in the National League by numbers he put up along with a league-leading 37 doubles.  Smashing the ball would become a habit for Hank: he would drive in 100-plus runs in 11 different seasons and would play in the All-Star game a honorable 24 times.  The Braves played inconsistently, but at the end of the 1957 season they found themselves in the drivers seat. 

The Braves could win the pennant with one more win.  It was in the 11th inning with a 2-2 tie with a runner on base and two outs, Hank Aaron came to the plate and drilled a slow curve ball over the center field fence, giving the Braves the pennant.   This was Hank's 109th home run and it was one of his biggest moments.  The Braves then moved on to play the Yankees in the World Series.  The Braves came out on top at the end winning the series 4 games to 3.  After the e1957 season, a sad event occurred when Barbara Aaron gave birth to twin boys, one of whom died a few days later.  

In May, 1970, Hank reached the milestone of 3000 hits.  At this same time he had 570 of the record 714 home runs.  At the end of the 1971 season his marriage began to gradually come apart, and he was divorced that winter.  Almost two years later Hank married Billye Williams of Atlanta.  His career was entering his last years, but before it was over he set the home run record at a total of 755 home runs.   This is what he is probably most remembered for today.  

Revised: July 18, 2013.