All month the lives of African Americans are celebrated for their perseverance, leadership, character and in some cases like this one – pure skill.
Today marks the birthday for Hank Aaron, Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players to swing a baseball bat. He not only broke Babe Ruth’s Home Run record with 715 in front of his own mother and hometown fans but Aaron also stood tall in the midst of threats that followed given the fact an African American would hold such an important record. Later in his career, he would also become the MLB All-Time RBI leader.
He was almost seemingly destined for baseball greatness calling Jackie Robinson his biggest influence and even admitting to cutting class to listen to Dodger games. Not only did hearing about Robinson’s accomplishments inspire Hank Aaron but he actually got a chance to meet him which in his words “gave us our dreams”. That early passion paid off when a Negro League team in Indianapolis signed him at 18 years old. He would then break into the majors with Milwaukee in 1957 before joining the team he is most known for and had great success with, the Atlanta Braves.
During a time where it would’ve been easy to shrink in size allowing the racial tension to get the best of him, Hank Aaron used it as constant motivation eventually becoming one of the greatest players in baseball history. When asked how he was able to maintain his focus on baseball despite death threats and even kidnapping plots on his children he replied,”I’ve always felt like once I put the uniform on and once I got out onto the playing field, I could separate the two. GOD gave me the separation, gave me the ability to separate the two of them.” Eventually being given the highest honor in baseball at the Hall of Fame ceremony, he still graciously addresses his record breaking Babe Ruth legacy with class,”I don’t want them to forget about Babe Ruth but I want them to remember me”. Spoken like a true competitor.
Mobile made good on that by celebrating his legacy with “Hank Aaron Day” in his hometown. An honor also shared by our very own Sway who was honored by the mayor with “Sway Calloway Day” in Oakland this past week. Black History constantly being made.
Happy Birthday to the one and only Hank Aaron!