Henry Louis Aaron is baseball royalty. Muhammad Ali said Aaron is “the only man I idolize more than myself.” Mickey Mantle said, “As far as I’m concerned, Aaron is the best player of my era. He’s never received the credit he is due.” The slugging right fielder played 23 MLB seasons – 21 of them with the Braves – and is one of the most consistent, productive and durable hitters ever to play the game. A first-ballot Hall of Famer and member of the MLB All-Century Team, Hammerin’ Hank was a gem on the diamond and even more graceful off the field.
Today’s date holds special meaning for Aaron and for the baseball record books. On this date in 1974, Hank Aaron broke one of baseball’s most cherished records. After receiving death threats and hate mail during the offseason, Aaron stepped to the plate before a record 53,775 patrons in the Braves home opener at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. In the fourth inning, he drove a 1-0 offering from Los Angeles Dodgers left hander, Al Dowling, into the left field bullpen for career home run number 715, surpassing the all-time mark of the immortal Babe Ruth.
At his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in 1982, the gracious and modest Alabaman said, “I never want them to forget Babe Ruth. I just want them to remember Henry Aaron.”
On June 8, 1961, The Hammer was part of a quartet of hitters to belt consecutive home runs in a single game. In the top of the seventh inning of a game against the Reds at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, Aaron hit the second of back-to-back homers off of Jim Maloney. The Reds’ right hander was then replaced by Marshall Bridges, who surrendered consecutive home runs to Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas. It was the first of seven times in MLB history that a team has hit four straight homers in one game.
A quiet and humble man, Henry Aaron was a silent assassin in the batter’s box. Consider these accomplishments, all attained without the use of performance-enhancing drugs:
Hammerin’ Hank drove in 2,297 runs, more than any player in history.
The embodiment of consistency, Mr. Aaron hit 20 or more home runs in twenty consecutive seasons. No other player has ever done that.
His 3,771 career hits are third-most in baseball history.
Aaron posted seventeen consecutive seasons with 150 or more hits, tying him with Derek Jeter for most of all time.
His 13 consecutive seasons with 100 or more runs scored tie Aaron with Lou Gehrig and Alex Rodriguez for most in history.
Along with Rodriguez, The Hammer holds the MLB record for most seasons  with 30 or more homers.
Aaron twice led the National League in hitting, and finished in the top five 11 times.
The three-time Gold-Glover led the league in homers in three seasons, finishing in the top five a whopping 14 times.
Only Ruth had more 40-home run seasons than Aaron. The two legends are the most prolific home run hitters of all time, and are tied for fourth on the list of most runs scored in a career [2,174].
Henry Aaron hit .300 or better in 15 seasons and finished in the top five in RBI ten times. In 1957, he won the NL MVP after batting .322, with 44 dingers and 132 RBI. That season, Aaron led the Braves to their first World Series championship since 1914.
“Trying to sneak a pitch past Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster.” – former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Curt Simmons.