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Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron dies aged 86

Hank Aaron has died at the age of 86.  Nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank", the former Atlanta Brave held...

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aa...
Other Sports

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron dies aged 86

Hank Aaron has died at the age of 86. 

Nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank", the former Atlanta Brave held the Major League Baseball record for career home runs for 33 years.

Aaron was a first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer in 1982.

His death was confirmed by his daughter on Friday afternoon.

Aaron's career began with the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro American League, before transitioning to the then Boston Braves in the minor leagues, who would make the move to Milwaukee.

He progressed to the Major Leagues with the Braves in 1954, hitting a home run in his spring training debut.

Just a year later, Aaron was an All Star at the age of just 21.

Aaron helped the Braves win the World Series in 1957, defeating a New York Yankees team that contained the likes of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.

When the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, Aaron went with them.

"Honestly, I was scared coming to a high-profile city like Atlanta,” he told Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein.

“Knowing that Dr. King was here, Andy Young and some of the other great civil rights leaders that made their home here, and I’m coming from Milwaukee where there was no activity at all.

He was reluctant to make the move, adding, "As a black player, I would be on trial in Atlanta, and I needed a decisive way to win over the white people before they thought of a reason to hate me."

In 1970, Aaron collected his 3000th career hit, and a year later he became just the third player to surpass 600 career home runs.

He'd move above Willie Mays into second in the all-time home run list in the 1972 season, and closed in on Babe Ruth's record.

During the off-season, Aaron would be subject to so much racially abusive hate-mail, he had to hire a secretary to sort through it.

"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 from say an evil letter I got the day before or event 20 minutes before," he told CNN.

"God gave me the separation, gave me the ability to separate the two of them."

Aaron tied Ruth's record of 714 home runs with his first swing of the 1974 season.

54,000 fans were on-hand, Sammy Davis Jr. and Georgia governor - and future US President Jimmy Carter - were in the stands as Aaron broke the record off the pitch of Los Angeles Dodger, Al Downing.

He'd go on to end his career with 755 home runs, a record which stood until 2007 when it was broken by the controversial figure of Barry Bonds.

Muhammad Ali famously said of Aaron, "The only man I idolise more than myself."

Aaron was only vaccinated against COVID-19 earlier this month, saying, "I don't have any qualms about it at all, you know," Aaron said. "I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this.

"It's just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country."

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Atlanta Braves Barry Bonds Baseball Hank Aaron