As his professional baseball career rose to its zenith, Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron would consistently downplay his ever-growing closeness to surpassing Babe Ruth’s home run record. But on an April game with a crowd of nearly 54,000 people — a record for the Atlanta Braves — Aaron achieved that record-breaking standard: Home run No. 715 in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the crowning achievement for a stellar baseball player who played 23 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), from 1954 to 1976, after a period in which he played with the Negro American League.
Aaron, who was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1934, was considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time during that era. Despite the distinction, Aaron received a number of death threats before and after surpassing Babe Ruth’s record from people who were angry a Black man would achieve that milestone. After retiring from playing, Aaron served as senior vice president and assistant to the Braves' president. In 1999, on his 65th birthday, the MLB announced the introduction of the Hank Aaron Award, an honor bestowed on the best overall offensive player in the American and National Leagues. In 2001, he was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton. The following year, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Distinction by President George W. Bush.
Today, he is the corporate vice president of community relations for TBS, a member of the company's board of directors and the vice president of business development for the Airport Network.
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(Photo: Atlanta Journal Constitution/MCT/Landov)