Henry Louis Aaron

Overview of the life and career of Henry

Henry Aaron was born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. He is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He had a career record of 755 home runs, 2,297 RBI's, and 6,856 total bases. On April 8, 1974, he broke Babe Ruth's home run record of 715 home runs despite intense racial hatred and pressure against him. He was one of the most consistent baseball players in history. He was an All-Star every year of his career except the first and the last year he played. He had an average of 33 home runs between the years of 1955 and 1973. He only played for two professional teams during his baseball career. He played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 through 1965. He played for the Atlanta Braves from 1966 through 1974. He played his final two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1975 to 1976. Upon his retirement, he went back to Atlanta to be a Senior Vice President for the Atlanta Braves organization.

His beginnings were very humble. He was born in a poor suburb called Down the Bay in Mobile, Alabama. He grew up in Toulminville, a better suburb of Mobile. He was a Boy Scout and a member of the Ebenezer A.M.E. Zion Church growing up. When Hank was eight years old he saw Joe DiMaggio play. Aaron first started playing baseball in a black softball league at Toulminville Grammar School. His batting average in grammar school and high school was over .700. In Central High School, he played shortstop, third base and hit to acclaim. He had an interesting way of batting: he held the bat cross-handed, one hand over the other. His team won the Negro High School Championship two years running.

Aaron's last two years of high school were spent at Josephine Allen Institute, a private high school. Aaron was so proficient a ballplayer at this young age that before his fifteenth birthday he was playing on a semi-pro team, the Pritchett Athletics, as their shortstop and third baseman. He made three dollars a game. He tried out for the Dodger's but did not get to show his abilities to the scouts there. He then played for a Mobile team called the Mobile Black Bears. He played there until 1951, when he was picked up and joined a Negro American League team, the Indianapolis Clowns. His mother wanted Aaron to attend college in Florida. But with the promise to finish high school, Aaron signed with the Clowns for two hundred dollars a month. He played shortstop there for a short time and then was traded up to the Milwaukee Braves in June 1952. He played in the Brave farm teams in 1952 and 1953 where he was Rookie of the Year.

In 1953 he met the girl he would marry. He married Barbara Lucas in October 1953. He joined the Braves in 1954 as the left fielder. He almost was not chosen, but the Braves left-fielder, Bobby Thomson, broke his ankle sliding into a base. In Aaron's first game he was struck out two times, hit a double play, grounded out and fouled out. Aaron hit his first major league home run in April 1954. He would hit 13 more homers that season, which was the lowest amount of home runs he would ever hit in his baseball career. In his early baseball career the hardest pitch for him to hit was a curve ball. After intensive work with some of the Braves' pitchers, Aaron overcame that pitch. In September of 1954, Aaron broke an ankle while sliding into third base. It would end the season for him.

The next season, Aaron was fully recovered and became the Braves right outfielder. This was the position he would play the most during his years in professional baseball. The 1955 season had him hitting 27 home runs and 216 RBI's. 1955 was also the year in which Aaron played in an All-Star game for the first time. In that game the pitcher walked Aaron, who would go on to score the first run of that game. He consistently hit homeruns in the next two seasons and in 1957 was named the league MVP.

In 1959, Hank Aaron was 25 years old. It was also the year he reached his 1000th hit in baseball. He hit a single. The pitch was from Sandy Koufax. Aaron continued year after to year to be effective at bat. He won batting championships and continued to be a consistent menace at the plate.

In 1962, his brother, Tommie Aaron was brought into the Braves. Tommie substituted for his older brother, Hank, while Hank recovered from some bruised ribs he received after running into the right outfield fence. Hank soon recovered and Tommie played left field and first base when needed. Aaron finished in 1962 with a total of 298 home runs.

In 1963, Aaron hit home run 300. In 1966, his home run total was 442. In 1971, Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth's home run record with homerun 715.

When people say Hank Aaron could be the greatest baseball player ever, they very well could be right.

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