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Big League Stew

Hank Aaron portrait painting going into Smithsonian for his 80th birthday

Atlanta Braves legend and former Major League Baseball home run king Hank Aaron is celebrating his 80th birthday on Wednesday, but that won't be the only milestone he celebrates this week.

On Saturday, the baseball Hall of Famer will be appearing and speaking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC when Ross Rossin's incredible painting of Aaron will be added to the National Portrait Gallery.

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Hank Aaron Portrait (Rossin Fine Art)

The painting — yes, that's it pictured above — will be entered as a part of the Smithsonian's Living Portrait Series, and according to Aaron it will rank among the greatest honors in his already decorated life.


"I was there with Andrew Young when they hung his (portrait)," Aaron said. "You're on a different level when you get there. You've achieved a lot, and somebody upstairs loves you. I don't know -- you feel like somebody special."

Rossin's attention to detail and artistic abilities created a likeness that could easily pass as an expert piece of photography. It's perfect and pristine, which is why he's often called upon to paint realistic portraits of world leaders, celebrities and historical figures. However, as Ted Berg of For The Win points out, Rossin didn't completely understand Aaron's place in American history or the magnitude of his painting until the project was complete.

“Blame it on my European roots but I wasn’t wholly aware of the magnitude of Hank Aaron’s legacy and importance to America,” the Bulgarian-American artist said. “When he came to my studio four years ago, on Feb. 5th 2010, which happened to be his 76st birthday, I was most impressed by his engaging charm and magnetism.

“We talked, I took photos of him and then we talked some more. It was only afterward that I learned that he is the king, he is the best in the world.”

It comes as a bit of a surprise that Rossin didn't know of Aaron's history. It comes as no surprise that Aaron immediately won him over with his charming personality. He's always been known as a well spoken gentleman and a leader, which is always apparent to those he interacts with. In turn, the talented Rossin was able to convey Aaron's traits in his portrait painting, and the results are undeniably fantastic.

Congratulations to Aaron on his incredible honor, and a very happy birthday as well.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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