Hank Aaron, one of baseball’s all-time great home run hitters, has died. He was 86.
The Braves later confirmed his death.
"We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world," Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement. "His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.."
Aaron played in the majors for 23 years from 1954 to 1976. He played for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and finished his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Aside from being a 25-time All-Star, an MVP and a three-time Gold Glove, Aaron ended his career as Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader with 755. He had taken the crown from New York Yankees great Babe Ruth and later lost it to San Francisco Giants legend Barry Bonds.
Aaron still holds the all-time record for RBI with 2,297.
Despite playing 23 seasons in the majors, he appeared in 25 All-Star Game. From 1959 to 1962, there were two MLB All-Star Games.
Aaron started his career in 1951 in the Negro Leagues with the Indianapolis Clowns. He played for three months before receiving offers from the Giants and the Braves of the major leagues.
According to the book "Batting Around," Aaron said the Braves offered him $50 more than the Giants which was the "only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates." He made his debut with the Braves at 23 in 1954 and won an MVP award by his fourth season.
He hit more than 40 home runs eight times in his career. He would break Ruth’s record on April 8, 1974, with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully calling the game. Scully invoked the racial tension of the time in his call.
"What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron. And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months," Scully said.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, picking up more than 97% of the vote.
After his career was over, Aaron wrote a book called "I Had a Hammer," owned an automotive group and owned several chain restaurants.
The details behind Aaron's death were unclear. He had just received his COVID vaccine earlier this month and called on Black Americans to get their shots when it becomes available.
"I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this. ... It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country," he told The Associated Press.
Aaron was the second Hall of Famer to die this week. Don Sutton, the legendary pitcher, died Tuesday at 75.