MLB Hall of Famer, former home run king Hank Aaron dies at 86

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Matt Weyrich
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MLB Hall of Famer, former home run king Hank Aaron dies at 86 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Henry “Hank” Aaron, a Hall of Fame outfielder and former holder of the MLB home run record, has died, the Atlanta Braves announced Friday. He was 86 years old.

Aaron played 23 seasons in the majors from 1954 to 1976. His career accolades include 25 All-Star nods, three Gold Gloves, two batting titles, an NL MVP award and World Series title. When he finished his career, Aaron held the all-time MLB records for home runs (755), RBIs (2,297), games played (2,398), at-bats (12,364) and total bases (6,856). Those records for RBIs and total bases still stand today.

“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature.

“Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts. We are heartbroken and thinking of his wife, Billye, and their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorinda, Ceci and his grandchildren.”

Aaron began his professional career in the Negro leagues as a member of the Indianapolis Clowns. He signed a contract with the Boston Braves a year later and made it to the majors by the spring of 1954.

Despite being a target of racial taunts and discrimination, Aaron flourished with the then-Milwaukee Braves. He spent nearly his entire career with the Braves, remaining with the club even after it moved to Atlanta in 1966. It wasn’t until 1975 when he left to return to Milwaukee and play his final two years with the Brewers.

The Nationals, who play in the NL East along with the Braves, released a statement Friday as well.

The crowning achievement of Aaron’s career was his 715th home run, which came on April 8, 1974 and passed Babe Ruth for the MLB home run record. His record stood until Aug. 7, 2007, when Barry Bonds hit the 756th of his 762 career long balls. Bonds has previously been accused of using steroids, an accusation that to date has kept him and several other players of his era out of the Hall of Fame.

Aaron was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1982 with approval from 97.8 percent of the eligible Baseball Writers Association of American voters.