Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Hank Aaron

Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Hank Aaron

“I have always felt that although someone may defeat me, and I strike out in a ball game, the pitcher on the particular day was the best player. But I know when I see him again, I'm going to be ready for his curve ball. Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it."

— Hank Aaron, the Home Run King and an Atlanta Braves legend

Henry Louis Aaron (February 5, 1934 – January 22, 2021), nicknamed "Hammer" or "Hammerin' Hank", was Major League Baseball right fielder who played 23 seasons, from 1954 through 1976. He spent 21 seasons with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, and he is almost universally considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

His 755 career home runs broke the long-standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth, and Aaron's record stood for 33 years. He still holds many other MLB batting records. He hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973, and is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

He appeared played in the Negro American League and in minor league baseball before starting his major league career. By his final MLB season, Aaron was the last Negro league baseball player on a major league roster. During his time in the MLB, especially during his run for the hitting record, Aaron and his family endured extensive racist threats.

After his retirement, Aaron held front office roles with the Atlanta Braves, including senior vice president. In 1999, MLB introduced the Hank Aaron Award to recognize the top offensive players in each league. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and named a 2010 Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society. Aaron resided near Atlanta until his death.


Each day this month, we'll be sharing wise words from Black Atlanta icons — some who are household names and some who you may not know. Atlanta history IS Black history, and this is our way of sharing it.