By Emma Spring
New York City, New York
Hank Aaron, the ‘Home Run King’ and arguably one of the best baseball players of all time, passed away on January 22. He was 86 years old.
In Aaron’s 23 years in Major League Baseball—an All-Star for 21 of them—he surpassed Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs and ended his career with a record 755. With the exception of Barry Bonds, who used steroids, Aaron is the all-time MLB home-run leader. He also stands as the all-time RBI and total bases leader and boasts over 3,000 career hits, the third most in baseball history. Aaron won three Gold Glove awards and stole fifteen or more bases for nine consecutive seasons in his prime. He was the complete player.
Aaron’s success did not come easily, however. He experienced extreme racism as a Black man growing up in the South—he slept in a separate hotel from his white teammates in the minor leagues, was berated by Milwaukee fans and sent endless death threats.
Aaron has been cemented statistically among the best, but his legacy extends much beyond. Batting through racism and excelling in the sport, Aaron paved the way for other Black players to follow. President Joe Biden put it best: “With courage and dignity, he eclipsed the most hallowed record in sports while absorbing vengeance that would have broken most people.” May he rest in peace as one of baseball’s greats.