When we finish singing the National Anthem we may embellish a bit: “And the home of the….. brave!!!!!”
For 21 years Hammerin’ Hank Aaron was one of the braves. An outstanding one. A remarkable one. A legendary one.
He had 7 siblings, born and raised in and around Mobile, Alabama. When he broke the Babe’s record, the incomparable baseball announcer Vin Scully who was calling the game for the Dodgers remarked what an occasion it truly was and will ever be for a black man to break that record in the South.
Henry Louis Aaron was, as far as I could ever tell, a rather quiet even reserved gentleman. He was an All Star 21 times. Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The NAACP awarded him the Thurgood Marshall Life Achievement Award. As a ballplayer he won the MVP Award when the Braves won the World Series. He holds the MLB records for most career runs batted in, extra base hits, and total bases.
Fair to say he made a lot of noise with his bat.
He also on the field of life was philanthropic and compassionate. He often made clear the greatest part of his life was helping others, helping children to achieve greatness. He also was a civil rights champion. He founded the Chasing the Dream Foundation. He and his wife gave generously to many of Georgia’s historically Black colleges and universities.
Baseball fans love the game. We love it even more when it is graced by one like Hammerin’ Hank, who showed us such agility, such talent, such determination and greatness, and did it on and off the field. Did it in life itself. Shined and shines like a star, a gem, an incomparable person.