Hank Aaron Biography, Early life and Family, Wife, Awards, Interview

Hank Aaron Biography

Hank Aaron was born on February 5, 1934, he is also known as Henry Louis Aaron is a retired American Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder who serves as the senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves. He played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) and two seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League (AL), from 1954 through 1976.
Aaron held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years, and he still holds several MLB offensive 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 1999, The Sporting News ranked Aaron fifth on its “100 Greatest Baseball Players” list.

Hank Aaron Age

Hank Aaron was born in 5 February 1934 , He is 85 years as of 2018,

Hank Aaron Early life and Family

Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 5, 1934, the third of Herbert and Estella Aaron’s eight children. His father was a shipyard worker and tavern owner. Aaron took an early interest in sports. Although the family had little money and he took several jobs to try to help out, he spent a lot of time playing baseball at a neighborhood park. Lacking interest in school because he believed he would make it as a ballplayer, Aaron transferred out of a segregated (restricted to members of one race) high school in his junior year to attend the Allen Institute in Mobile, which had an organized baseball program.
After high school graduation, Aaron played on local amateur and semi-pro teams, such as the Pritchett Athletics and the Mobile Black Bears, where he began to make a name for himself. At this time Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) of the Brooklyn Dodgers was breaking the baseball color barrier by becoming the first African American player in the major leagues. At age seventeen, Aaron gained immediate success as a hard-hitting infielder. In 1951 the owner of the Indianapolis Clowns, part of the professional Negro American League, signed him as the Clowns’ shortstop for the 1952 season

Hank Aaron Children

Hank Aaron had six children

  1. Gaile Aaron daughter,
  2. Ceci Aaron daughter,
  3. Dorinda Aaron daughter,
  4. Hank Aaron Son,
  5. Jr., Gary Aaron Son
  6. Lary Aaron Son

Hank Aaron Wife

Hank Aaron married Barbara Lucas on October 6, 1953. After they divorced, he married Billye Aaron in 1973. He has six children: Ceci, Gary, Lary, Dorinda, Gaile, and Hank Jr.

Hank Aaron Career

Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major league in 1954, eight years after Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball. Aaron was the last Negro League player to compete in the majors. He quickly established himself as an important player for the Braves and won the National League batting title in 1956. The following season, he took home the league’s MVP award and helped the Braves beat Mickey Mantle and the heavily favored New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1959, Aaron won his second league batting title.
Season after season, Aaron turned in strong batting performances. “Hammerin’ Hank” hit .300 or higher for 14 seasons and slugged out at least 40 homers in eight separate seasons. In May 1970, he became the first player in baseball to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Aaron is best known, however, for breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, which he established in 1935. On April 8, 1974, in front of a crowd of over 50,000 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Aaron hit his 715th career home run in the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sadly, in the months leading up to the new record, Aaron received piles of racist hate mail and death threats from those unhappy about seeing the Babe’s record broken, especially by a black man.
Aaron, who played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 1974, spent the final two seasons of his 23 years in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers. When he retired in 1976, he left the game with 755 career home runs, a record that stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Aaron still holds the records for most career runs batted in (2,297), most career total bases (6,856) and most career extra base hits (1,477). After retiring as a player, Aaron became one of baseball’s first black executives, with the Atlanta Braves. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Hank Aaron Photo

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron Awards

  • National League Most Valuable Player Award
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
  • People’s Choice Award for Favorite Sports Figure

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Hank Aaron Interview

Today, 15 years after being elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, Henry Aaron is the Atlanta Braves’ senior vice president and assistant to the president (Stan Kasten), and often represents the organization in community relations activities. In the following interview, Aaron discusses the impact Jackie Robinson had on his career, and also recounts some of the trials he and other black ballplayers faced in crossing the color line.
AMERICAN HISTORY: As a young black ballplayer, what was your reaction when you learned of Jackie Robinson signing with the Dodgers?
HENRY AARON: Well, I guess it was kind of like putting it in the same perspective as the signing of the bill that ended discrimination as far as drinking fountains and railroads and bath facilities, and things like that. Kind of taking a burden off your back, when you felt like Jackie Robinson had done something to give every black kid a chance to live his dream.
AH: Do you recall the time, as a young player, when you first met Jackie?
AARON: When I was in high school–when I was in Mobile, Alabama–I remember Jackie Robinson. They had a farm team in Mobile, and teams always used to come through there to play the Mobile Bears. And Jackie came there to make a speech, and I remember that I stayed out of school to listen to him speak.
AH: Did that speech, and meeting him at that time, set your career on its course?
AARON: Well, he certainly did affect me when I listened to him. But even before then he affected me, just knowing that Jackie Robinson was the first black man that ever played professional baseball certainly inspired me to go ahead and fulfill my dream.
AH: When he came up to the big leagues, did every black baseball fan in America become a Dodger fan?
AARON: I would have to say almost ninety percent of the blacks–of minorities in this country–became Dodger fans. In fact, a lot of them still hold the Dodgers to be true. They still feel like they were the ones who broke the ice, and they need to be loyal to them. You have to remember that black folks are very loyal, and I would have to say that was a turning point in the Dodgers’ career.
AH: There was some comment at the time that Jackie was brought up by Branch Rickey more because of his personality, his upbringing, and his intelligence than for his baseball ability. Perhaps there were more athletic players who could have been brought up?
AARON: I’m sure some of that was true. I’m sure they probably could’ve brought in a lot more, many more, players that had more talent than Jackie Robinson. But that wasn’t the only criteria at that time. You had to have somebody who could deal with the pressure; you had to have somebody who had the outlook of a Dr. Martin Luther King, who could turn the other cheek at times, and also be able to play baseball so that people would appreciate it. So, I’m sure the things mentioned, all of that was true.
AH: What was it about Jackie’s personality that made him a good choice to be the first black man in major-league baseball?
AARON: Jackie Robinson was an educated man; he understood the pressure. He understood that if he failed, he would set integration back–as far as baseball–twenty or thirty years. He [Rickey] felt like Jackie was intelligent enough to know that he had to– its unfortunate–but he had to prove himself, not only to his teammates, but to everybody in the country; that if given the opportunity, blacks could play baseball as well as everybody else. But also, that if given the opportunity he could withstand a little bit more than that, because you had a lot of Southerners still playing in the major leagues, and they didn’t like integration. A lot of players on the opposite teams didn’t like it. You also had some teammates that didn’t like him playing in the big leagues.
AH: At the beginning of his rookie year, three of his teammates circulated a petition to prevent him from playing, correct?
AARON: That’s true. So, I don’t know that I could have played under those conditions. I played under a lot of tough conditions, but playing under those conditions where you had some of your teammates, had some of the players . . . you just wondered sometimes if when you walked in the shower, everybody wouldn’t run out.
AH: Over his career, Jackie began to change and became more embittered, did he not?
AARON: He had proven himself, that if given the opportunity he could play baseball. He had proven that to himself, but he was a man, and he had a temper just like everyone else. He felt like he had done all of these things, and he just needed to be his own man. He had a lot of pressure stored up in him from when people would slide into him, slap him, call him names, and all that other stuff. He just felt like he didn’t need to take that anymore.
AH: There was a lot of prejudice in baseball at that time; was it across the board?
AARON: There was a lot of prejudice; I don’t know if it was across the board, but there was enough of it. There was a lot of it there with just about every team in the major leagues.
AH: Was Rickey right to be so careful about the type of player he brought up?
AARON: I thought he brought up the right person. Not everybody, as I’ve said before, could have handled it. Jackie Robinson did handle it. I think the Dodgers was the right club to be with. I think that Jackie Robinson was the right person to achieve this goal.
AH: Was Branch Rickey the right person to embark on this journey?
AARON: Oh yes, no question about it.
AH: Why do you say that?
AARON: He knew what it was going to take, and he foresaw at the time that if Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues, it was going to change the whole concept of baseball–not only with the Dodgers, but with the whole major leagues. And it did. I think that black players changed the way that baseball was played as far as speed and power and doing some other things. And that holds true right now. When Jackie was playing, and after Jackie and in my era, it has continued that black players, most of them, can do things on the base paths that the average person just can’t do.
AH: Do you think Jackie was aware that this was more than just a sports issue, and was a societal issue as well?
AARON: I think he realized this was more than a sports issue. . . . He had to look at it from the standpoint that he was the prime example. If he failed, baseball was going to be set back twenty or thirty years. And he had the world, everything on his shoulders, as far as baseball and for that matter, sports.
AH: Where would baseball be today without Jackie Robinson?
AARON: . . .You would see guys hitting, going base to base. Ty Cobb, when he played, from what I gather, was one of the greatest players who ever played. Along came Lou Brock, then Rickey Henderson, who erased all those records, and showed that stealing the number of bases that Ty Cobb stole was easy to erase. Along came myself, and I hit 755 home runs . . . . Black baseball players have set all kinds of examples in sports, especially in baseball.
AH: Weren’t there a lot of people rooting against you when it came to setting the home run record?
AARON: That’s true. That didn’t bother me as much as you hear. Jackie Robinson had set the tone, and I was not about to fold the tent. I was there to perform my duty, and I knew that I had been given the opportunity to play. And just for a few people to write a few letters and all these other things, it didn’t make any difference to me.
AH: When you were a rookie in 1954, how had Jackie broken down some of the barriers? What were some of the challenges you faced?
AARON: I think playing with your teammates was a little bit easier. When Jackie came up, I think his teammates were against his playing in the big leagues. I think when I got to the big leagues, it was a little easier for me to play with my teammates, although I still had problems. Hotels had been integrated in some areas. We still had problems with spring training because most teams trained in the South. But a lot of things had happened before Jackie got there, and after he got there, it was a little easier for black players to get around.
AH: What were some of the changes you noticed?
AARON: When Jackie broke in you couldn’t stay at the same hotel [with the rest of the team]; your teammates, even the teammates you thought were all right, were against you. So all of these things are a lot easier.
AH: The Civil Rights Movement went hand in hand with the start of your career. How did that help baseball?
AARON: I think it all went hand in hand, civil rights and baseball, anything that had to do with breaking down barriers of segregation. Of course, that was the bigger issue–the civil rights issue. As far as hotel accommodations, train accommodations, travel, things like this, it affected a multitude of people, rather than changing for just a few. . . .
AH: How much did the success of black athletes on the playing field help the Civil Rights Movement?
AARON: All of it helped. This country was infested with segregation on all fronts, no matter what it was–baseball, all walks of life. You couldn’t go somewhere to take a drink of water from a fountain. All these areas were affected. So we needed a hand in everything, and baseball did a tremendous job of breaking down some of those barriers.
AH: You’ve sometimes alluded to how difficult the 1973 season was for you.
AARON: The only thing I can say is that I had a rough time with it. I don’t talk about it much. It still hurts a little bit inside, because I think it has chipped away at a part of my life that I will never have again. I didn’t enjoy myself. It was hard for me to enjoy something that I think I worked very hard for. God had given me the ability to play baseball, and people in this country kind of chipped away at me. So, it was tough. And all of those things happened simply because I was a black person.
AH: Would Jackie Robinson have made a good manager?
AARON: I don’t know. I think Jackie would have expected the same out of his players that he himself gave when he played, and that’s kind of hard. Jackie was a perfectionist; he expected players to play as hard as they could no matter whether they were one run in front or twenty runs behind. And players just don’t do it. But I do believe that if Jackie wanted to be a fine manager, he could have adapted and could have been as fine a manager as anyone else.
AH: How far do we have left to go as far as race relations in sports?
AARON: There’s still some problems in this country, and still some problems in baseball. It may not be on the baseball field, but you still have problems in the front office. People shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking baseball has reached the point where all of these problems are eliminated. That is not the case. We still have problems with the front office. They still need to be liberalized a little bit more than they are now.
AH: Are you involved with trying to spur that on?
AARON: There’s no such thing as being involved in it. It’s just that you speak out on it every time it comes forth. You just let people know that baseball isn’t all that we think it is–the American dream.

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