by Justin from Fredericksburg
Hank Aaron is Major League Baseball's all-time leading career home run hitter with 755 over a 23-year career. Not only did he set baseball records, but he did it while under the racial criticism of people from all over the country. He received death threats on a regular basis and was often booed from the stands of his own team. Never once did he let that slow him down, although he sometimes feared for the well-being of himself and his family.
Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama. He began his baseball career as at the age of 15 as a shortstop for the Mobile Black Bears, a semiprofessional baseball team. When he was 17, he drew the attention of Syd Pollock, the owner of a professional Negro League baseball team. After graduating from high school, he played with the Indianapolis Clowns only briefly. Soon he attracted the interests of several Major League Baseball teams, and in 1952 he signed with the Milwaukee Braves (now Atlanta Braves). He played for the Braves' minor league teams. He spent a year in the Class C Northern League and was promoted to the Class A Southern League for the 1953 season. Not only was he among the first African American players admitted into the league, but he also won most valuable player (MVP) honor.
In 1954 he made his major league debut on opening day. The 20-year-old made immediate contributions to the team in home runs and runs batted in. He won National League batting titles in 1956 and not only won MVP in 1957, but led the Braves to a World Series Title that same year. He finished his career with 755 home runs, 2297 runs batted in (RBI's), 6856 total bases, 1477 extra base hits, and times at bat (12,364), all Major League Baseball records.
After retiring, Aaron worked as the Atlanta Braves' director of player development and was involved in a number of charitable organizations. His many honors and awards include 24 All-Star Game appearances and election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
Not only was Hank Aaron able to be a role model to those who liked him, but he also set an example for those who didn't like him. Never once did he answer the boos and heckles, whether from the crowd or from the media. Today he still gives back to others who are more in need so that they can one day fulfill their dreams. He worked in the Atlanta Braves front office as vice president of player operations so that many African-American players did not have to experience some of his hardships.