Henry "Hank" Aaron

Aaron By Henry Aaron with Furman Bisher

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Henry Louis Aaron was born on February 15, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. He is considered one of the best baseball player of all time. After playing for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League and in the minor leagues, he was called up to the major leagues in 1954. He played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, and then spent his last two playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. Over those 23 season "Hammerin' Hank" holds the major league record for runs batted in (2,297), the most career total bases (6,856), and the most career extra base hits (1,477). He also had 3,771 hits and played in 3,298 games. His biggest achievement was setting the MLB record with 755 career home runs, which was the most in the MLB until Barry Bonds surpassed him 33 years later. On August 1, 1982 Hank was voted into the hall of fame, his first year of eligibility. After his career Hank won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the United States highest civilian award.
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This video is of Hank Aaron hitting his 715th Home run in the Major Leagues which broke Babe Ruth's home run record.
"The other teams in the league were Columbia and Charleston i South Carolina, Macon, Columbus, Augusta, and Savannah in Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama. There had never been any black players in the league before, or in any other professional league in the South before." (30)
In the early stage of his playing career Hank had to deal with a lot of racial discrimination. For most of the teams he played for before making it into the big leagues there were hardly any blacks on the team if that, so Hank found it hard to focus on baseball when this was occurring. His situation was similar to many African American baseball players at the time. They found themselves on teams with no other African Americans, nobody supporting them. This pressure caused many of them to quit baseball, but not Hank. It was remarkable the career Hank was able to achieve under such scrutiny for most of his playing years.
'Son I had to quit school because I had to go work to help make a living.You don't have to. I put fifty cents on that dresser each morning for you to take to school to buy yoour lunch and what else you need. I don't take but twenty-five cents to work with me. It's worth more to me that you get yourself an education than it is for me to eat, and you aren't going to drop out of school until you're through."(15)
This quote is Hank's father talking to him about staying in school. To Hank's family his education was everything to them. They were willing to go hungry just so he could eat at school. This was a turning point in Hank's life, even though he wanted to do right by his parents he had to pursue his dream, which was baseball.
When Aaron made this decision his family backed him even though education meant so much to them.
" 'Well let me be the first to congratulate you. You've been announced the Most Valuable Player in the National League.' " (2)
This is the highest achievement for a player in the Major Leagues. For Hank Aaron to win this award was huge since he was the last player to come from the Negro Leagues, and faced scrutiny early in his career. He won the award when he was only in the League for three years which is a remarkable feat. Also it took a lot of pressure off of him because the fans supported him rather than criticizing him for his ethnicity.
"I came to the Braves on business, and I intended to see that that business was good as long as I could." (56)
Henry Aaron never let baseball get to his head. He never let the fame and glory engulf him like it does to some. He always viewed baseball as a business, and wanted to keep it straight business. That's why his playing career spanned over many years, he ways able to stay humble, and he realized he was working to make money, not just playing a game.
"I was about to become a major league baseball player, Henry Louis Aaron, from two sandwiches, two dollars and two pairs of pants, to the Indianapolis Clowns, to Eau Claire on the first airplane ride of my life, to Jacksonville to Left Field, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A." (49)
This quote is describing Henry when he gets called up to the major leagues. It shows what he had to go through to make it to the majors. He went from playing in the Negro League starting out with two dollars, then making it to the highest level of baseball, the major leagues. How he was able to overcome poverty in his young life really shows how strong-willed Henry was.
" 'I've never seen a player with Aaron's ability to swing at bad pitches and convert them into hits, ' Roush said. 'He hits the ball where it's pitched. High over his head, 'way outside or inside, practically in the dirt. I don't believe he knows where the strike zone is.' " (171)
Hank had a very unique style of batting. Around the league he was known as a "free swinger". This means he swung at anything whether it was at his toes or above his head. What made Hank so good was that he was able to not only put these balls in play, but he was able to hit them out of the ballpark. Alll throughout his career people were impressed by this, many of them were taken back. Just like the hall of famer Edd Roush in this quote.
Racial Discrimination was prominent throughout the 1950's and 60's. It affected sports on a widespread scale. They had separate baseball leagues just because one person's skin color is different from another. The African Americans were able to fight through this adversity and make a difference for a lot of people. Hank Aaron is a good example of this, when he was in the early years of his major league career he had to fight through the fans booing him. They did this just because the color of his skin. He was able to prevail through this and not only be one of the greatest hitters of all time, but he was a role model for countless kids white or black. He was able to show people you can do anything if you set your mind to it. That is shown throughout American History, if someone set their mind to do something it got done, if you look at Martin Luther King Jr., he wanted to tear down the walls of racial discrimination, and he was a huge part of just that.
Works Cited
Aaron, Hank. Aaron. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974. Print.
"Hank Aaron 715" 16 November, 2009.Web.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vbumo7z3Dg>
"hank_aaron.jpg" 17 November, 2009.Web.<http://dixiedining.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/hank_aaron.jpg>
"Hank Aaron Biography" 14 November, 2009.Web.<http://www.biography.com/articles/Hank-Aaron-9173497>
"hank.jpg" 19 November, 2009.Web. <http://cdn.newsone.com/files/2009/08/hank.jpg>