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Hank Aaron, former home run king, Atlanta Braves star dies at 86

He was a role model to black Americans up until his death.

Updated: January 23, 2021 - 3:47pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

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Atlanta Brave legend Henry Louis Aaron died Friday morning at 86 years old, according to his daughter.

He was born in Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 5, 1934 and was one of eight children born to Herbert and Estella Aaron, according to WSBTV.

Aaron played from 1954-76, almost entirely with the Braves, first in Milwaukee and later in Atlanta. He was a 25-time MLB All-Star (including two selections each year between 1959-62, when two All-Star games were played per season). In 1957, he led the team to their first World Series pennant since 1914. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Aaron passed Babe Ruth on the all-time home run leaderboard in 1974 when he got his 715th home run hit. He ended his career with 755 home runs. This record lasted for 31 years until Barry Bonds passed him in 2014. For many, Aaron remains baseball's "real" home run king, as Bonds' career total of 762 is tainted by widespread suspicions of cheating with performance-enhancing drugs.

Aaron — nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank" or "the Hammer" — is still MLB's all-time leader in RBI with 2,297 and total bases with 6,856. He is third in career hits with 3,771. Aaron, an outfielder, won three Gold Gloves in addition to the National League batting titles in 1956 and 1959, the 1957 NL MVP award and the 1970 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for character.

He was the first player in MLB history to reach 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. He was third in MVP voting on six different occasions.

Aaron, who endured racism in the South during his playing days while chasing Ruth's home run record, became involved in civil rights causes during and after his playing days. Aaron said he realized he had a role to play in the growing social justice movement in Atlanta upon the team moving from Milwuake.He was a role model to black Americans up until his death. Earlier this month, he joined civil rights leaders in receiving the coronavirus vaccine to show black Americans that it was safe.

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