Aaron, Hank

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Aaron, Hank

Hank Aaron (Henry Louis Aaron), 1934–, U.S. baseball player, b. Mobile, Ala. A durable outfielder and consistent hitter noted for his powerful wrists and explosive swing, Aaron joined a Negro League exhibition team, the Indianapolis Clowns, at 18. Within a month, however, he became a member of the Milwaukee Braves farm system. He was among the first African Americans to play a full career (23 years) in the major leagues, with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves (1954–74) and with the Milwaukee Brewers (1975–76). During his first season with the Braves he led the team in hits. In 1974 "Hammerin' Hank" broke Babe Ruth's legendary lifetime mark of 714 home runs, eventually setting a record of 755 homers, which held until Barry Bonds hit his 756th in 2007. Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, Aaron is baseball's career leader in runs batted in (2,297) and extra-base hits (1,477) and was an All Star a record 24 times. He was the National League's most valuable player in 1957 and won three Gold Gloves. In 1976 he became one of the first black executives in the game, beginning a long tenure in the Atlanta Braves front office. He also had a successful business career.

See his autobiography, I Had a Hammer (with L. Wheeler, 1991, repr. 2007); H. Bryant, The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron (2010).

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