Hank Aaron hits 500th homer

Hank Aaron hits 500th homer

On July 14, 1968, Atlanta Braves slugger Henry “Hank” Aaron hits the 500th home run of his career in a 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Henry Aaron was born February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama. The third of eight children, Aaron was a star football player, third baseman and outfielder in high school, and signed with the Negro League’s Mobile Black Bears while still a teenager. He joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952 at age 18 and helped them win the Negro League World Series. The next year, his contract was sold to the Milwaukee Braves of the National League. On April 13, 1954, Aaron became the last former Negro League player to make his debut in the major leagues.

Aaron broke camp with the big league Braves in 1954 after a year of thorough domination in the minor leagues. In that and many future seasons with the Braves, Aaron shared the spotlight with third baseman Eddie Matthews. For their careers, the two men hit a record 863 home runs as teammates and hit home runs in the same game 75 times. In 1957, Aaron won his only MVP award, hitting .322 with 44 home runs and 132 RBIs. Aaron, Matthews and pitchers Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette led the Braves to a World Series victory that year over Manager Casey Stengel and his perennial favorite New York Yankees. In 1958, the Braves won their second National League pennant in a row, but lost a World Series rematch to the Yankees.

On July 14, 1968, with 499 career home runs under his belt, Aaron hit a three-run shot in the third inning off Giants’ pitcher Mike McCormick. Aaron was mobbed at home plate by his teammates and presented with an award by Braves President Bill Bartholomay for reaching 500 home runs.

Aaron was already 34 years old in 1968, the age at which players of his era usually began a rapid decline. Although 1968 was a slightly off year for the slugger–he hit .287 with 29 home runs and 86 RBIs–Aaron was not yet slowing down. Naysayers ate their words as they watched him hit 203 home runs between 1969 and 1973. On April 8, 1974, after a winter of hate mail containing threats from racist fans, Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record for career home runs. Aaron retired from baseball in 1976 with 755 home runs. After a career of remarkable offensive consistency, Aaron retired as the all-time leader in runs batted in, extra base hits and total bases. He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.


Timeline of Hammerin' Hank's legendary career

When it comes to icons of baseball, sport and American society at large, few names are bigger than Hank Aaron .

Aaron overcame unfavorable odds in the Depression-era South to become an all-time baseball legend, and even more importantly, a man of impeccable grace and character. Muhammad Ali once said that Aaron was “the only man I idolize more than myself.”

Aaron, who died Friday at age 86, built an extraordinary legacy. Here are some of the biggest moments in the life of Hammerin’ Hank.

Feb. 5, 1934: Aaron born in Mobile, Ala.
Henry Louis Aaron was one of eight children (including his brother, Tommie, who would later become his big league teammate) in a family that straddled the poverty line in the Toulminville neighborhood of Mobile. Each family member worked to support the household, including Henry, who picked cotton and worked several other jobs in his adolescence.

Aaron honed his early batting eye by hitting bottle caps with a broom handle, and he became a gifted high school athlete in both football and baseball. In 1947, Aaron ducked school to attend a talk given by Jackie Robinson, a man who would shape Aaron’s motivations and convictions, when Robinson’s Dodgers came to Mobile for an exhibition. Two years later, Aaron’s mother, Estella, let him sign with the semi-pro Mobile Black Bears for $3 per game, on the condition that he only play in local contests.

June 14, 1952: Aaron signs with Boston Braves
Aaron had agreed to a $200 per month contract with the Negro American League’s Indianapolis Clowns in 1951, despite his mother’s wishes that he attend college instead. He immediately impressed, batting .366 and helping the Clowns capture the ‘52 Negro League World Series title.

Aaron’s performance earned him a pair of Major League offers from the Giants and Braves, and Aaron chose Boston’s offer of $50 more per month. Aaron reported to Eau Claire, Wisc., for Class C ball, and after eliminating the cross-handed grip he developed as a boy, batted .336 to claim the Northern League’s Rookie of the Year Award.

While Aaron’s bat was promising, his mental fortitude proved even more impressive when the Braves promoted him to the Jacksonville Tars the next year. As one of five African-American players breaking the color line in the newly desegregated Sally League, Aaron endured taunts and Jim Crow-era discrimination on the road (“Henry Aaron led the league in everything except hotel accommodations,” one writer said) and claimed the league’s MVP honors. He also met -- and soon married -- his wife, Barbara, that year.

April 13, 1954: Aaron makes big league debut
Bobby Thomson famously clubbed the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to win the 1951 NL pennant for the Giants, but his life took another famous turn three years later when he broke his ankle in Spring Training. That opened a spot for Aaron, who started in left field for the Milwaukee Braves’ ’54 season opener in Cincinnati.

Aaron went 0-for-5 that afternoon, but within 10 days, he collected his first Major League hit and home run -- both coming off Cardinals right-hander Vic Raschi. A fractured ankle cut Aaron’s season short in early September, but he placed fourth in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting after batting .280 and knocking his first 13 homers.

Aaron moved over to right field the next year and finished with a .314 average, 27 homers and an NL-best 37 doubles. He placed ninth in NL MVP Award voting and earned his first of 21 consecutive All-Star Game selections. Aaron’s 25 total All-Star nods are a Major League record that might never be surpassed.

Oct. 10, 1957: Aaron, Braves take down mighty Yanks
Milwaukee’s new slugger was just getting started. In 1956, Aaron paced the Senior Circuit with a .328 average, 200 hits, 34 doubles and 340 total bases. He moved to the Braves’ cleanup spot the following year and enjoyed what might have been his best Major League season: A sport-topping 44 homers, 132 RBIs and 369 total bases.

Those numbers netted Aaron his only NL MVP Award in November 1957, but more treasured moments came weeks earlier. On Sept. 23, Aaron clubbed an 11th-inning homer that clinched the Braves’ first pennant in Milwaukee. Then, he hit .393 and knocked three dingers in his team’s thrilling seven-game World Series triumph over the vaunted Yankees. While Aaron led Milwaukee back to a Fall Classic rematch the following year, ’57 would prove to be the only championship of his career.

July 14, 1968: Aaron joins 500 HR Club
While the Braves made just one postseason appearance in the 1960s, the uber-consistent Aaron began racking up accomplishments. In a June 1961 game, Aaron joined lineup mates Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas as the first teammate quartet to homer in successive at-bats. Two years later, Aaron followed Ken Williams and Willie Mays as the third player to pair 30-plus homers with 30-plus steals in a single season, and he missed out on a Triple Crown by just seven points to NL batting champion Tommy Davis.

Beginning with his 1957 MVP year through the ’67 campaign, Aaron belted at least 30 home runs in all but one season. That set Hammerin’ Hank up for a big July afternoon at old Atlanta Stadium, when he knocked Giants pitcher Mike McCormick’s third-inning pitch over the left-field wall for his 500th homer. At the time, Aaron was just the eighth member of the 500 Club, and he reached the milestone in fewer seasons than anyone except Mays. Aaron’s pace was one season quicker than Babe Ruth, a name he would hear plenty in the years to come.

May 17, 1970: Aaron gets 3,000th hit
Only six players in Major League history have tallied 500 homers and 3,000 hits, and Aaron was the first to do it. His infield single off Reds rookie Wayne Simpson made him just the third Live Ball Era member of the 3,000-hit club, following Paul Waner and Stan Musial, who walked onto the diamond at Crosley Field to celebrate the moment with Aaron.

Despite founding a statistical club all to himself with the 500-homer and 3,000-hit benchmarks, Aaron still was “not a household name,” in the words of Thomas Rogers of the Cincinnati Enquirer. That would change after the following season, when a career-best 47 homers suddenly raised Aaron’s lifetime total to 639 -- and within striking distance of a moment that would change his life forever.

April 8, 1974: “There’s a new home run champion …”
Baseball has seldom seen moments accompanied by as many eyes and fanfare as Aaron’s at-bats at the beginning of 1974. Months before, Aaron had finished the ’73 campaign with 713 career home runs, leaving him just one dinger shy of tying Babe Ruth for the all-time mark.

That set up an agonizingly long offseason of interviews, questions and trying moments for Aaron. He received thousands of letters every week -- some encouraging, others carrying terrifying messages. Racism remained prevalent in sections of America in 1974, just one decade after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and Aaron received a considerable amount of death threats from fans who wanted Ruth to remain the homer king.

Such threats might have rattled men with less conviction, but Aaron handled the attention with unparalleled grace and focus. He tied Ruth in his first at-bat of the season with a three-run blast off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham. Four nights later, Aaron put the suspense to rest with a blast off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, evoking the famous call, “There's a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron!” from Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton.

Vin Scully, the Dodgers’ legendary voice, summed up the moment best:

“What a marvelous moment for baseball what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”

Aaron would later call Jackie Robinson his hero, “not only for the baseball that he played, but simply because of the person he was.” In refusing to bow to societal pressure and thriving under intense scrutiny, Aaron carried on the legacy of the man he revered.

“I felt the importance of what I was doing was sending a signal to the world,” Aaron said, “and telling people that all you wanted to do was have the playing field level. Just give me an opportunity. I felt that way that not only did I have the world on my shoulders as far as baseball was concerned, but I also had the world on my shoulders to demonstrate to people that, hey, just give me an opportunity."

May 1, 1975: Hank passes The Babe again

A trade in November 1974 returned Aaron to Milwaukee, where he played out the remainder of his career with the nascent Brewers. Aaron’s old fan base got to see him pass Ruth again, this time when he drove home teammate Sixto Lezcano with a single for his 2,210th career RBI.

Ruth’s official total, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, now stands under 2,000, because the Bureau does not recognize Ruth’s RBIs that came before the statistic was formally recognized in 1920. So, Aaron -- unbeknownst to those at the time -- technically had the record already in hand. Aaron’s RBI came with little fanfare at Milwaukee’s County Stadium the ball was retrieved and thrown to the dugout, and play resumed. But while Barry Bonds eventually surpassed Aaron’s 755 home runs, Aaron’s record 2,297 RBIs remain unchallenged.

July 20, 1976: Aaron hits final home run
A crowd of 10,134 at County Stadium saw Aaron knock his 755th homer off Angels pitcher Dick Drago, but few -- if any -- of those in attendance would have predicted that it would be his final blast. Aaron finished the year with 64 more at-bats, but he didn’t go deep again. Thirty-one years later, Aaron would show his grace once more when he congratulated Bonds on his record breaking 756th home run.

Aug. 1, 1982: Aaron gets call to Hall
Only nine votes separated Aaron from unanimous election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, when he earned the second-highest BBWAA voting percentage in history (97.8%) at the time behind Ty Cobb (98.2%). His election alongside Frank Robinson brought historic power to the dais that summer, as the pair combined for a mammoth 1,341 homers across a combined 44 Major League seasons.

Feb. 5, 1999: MLB introduces Hank Aaron Award
When tasked with commemorating the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s record-breaking homer in Atlanta, Major League Baseball found an ideal honor in the Hank Aaron Award, now given annually to the top hitter in each league. MLB announced the award at Aaron’s 65th birthday celebration. The winners, selected by ballots submitted by fans, broadcasters and analysts, are honored during the World Series, and Aaron was usually on hand to present the award.

July 9, 2002: President Bush honors Aaron
Aaron continued to be celebrated into the 21st century. He was named to MLB’s All-Century Team in 2000, and he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton in ’01.

The following year, President George W. Bush presented Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. At the time, Aaron was just the fourth baseball player to receive America’s highest civilian honor, following in the footsteps of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and his hero, Jackie Robinson.

“Hank Aaron overcame poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time,” said President Bush. “By steadily pursuing his calling in the face of unreasoning hatred, Hank Aaron has proven himself a great human being, as well as a great athlete.”


Harmon Killebrew Hits His 500th Career Home Run

Harmon Killebrew had demonstrated patience before in his career, waiting five years before finally cracking the starting lineup.

But as he waited 16 games to go from homer No. 499 to 500, the tension became almost unbearable.

“When it finally happened, my manager, Bill Rigney, said he hoped it wouldn’t be as long between 500 and 501 as it was between 499 and 500,” he told the Arizona Republic.

Killebrew fulfilled his inevitable legacy of joining the 500 home-run club on Aug. 10, 1971, by crushing a 385-foot shot into the left-field stands at Metropolitan Stadium, off of Orioles southpaw Mike Cuellar. Making up for lost time, he alleviated the worries of his manager by crushing a second home-run in his next at-bat. Even though the Twins lost that game to the Orioles, 4-3, the 35-year-old slugger had cemented his name in the history books.

The Hall of Famer became the 10th player to reach the milestone, and wrapped up his 22-year career with 573 home runs. At the time of his retirement, he was fifth on the all-time home run list, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson.

Killebrew began his big league career as a bonus baby with the Washington Senators, and as such was mandated by rule to remain in the big leagues while others his age learned in the minors. But after five years on the Senators’ bench, Killebrew burst on the national scene by hitting 42 home runs in his first year as a regular in 1959.

Moving with the Senators to the Twin Cities in 1961, Killebrew emerged as one of the game’s most consistent sluggers. He led his league in home runs six times and earned 13 All-Star Game selections.

The build-up to his landmark achievement was hard to miss. The Minnesota Twins were so eager to celebrate the feat that they ended up giving out commemorative cups prior to Killebrew’s 500th home run, instead of the day he actually hit it.

“They picked a date they thought would work, but when that day arrived, I hadn’t done it yet,” explained Killebrew. “They gave away the cups anyway.”

The excitement surrounding his historic moment reached as far as the White House. On Aug. 6, 1971, a couple days before Killebrew’s 500th homer, President Richard Nixon left a memorandum for Bob Haldeman, former White House Chief of Staff. It read:

This bat, which Harmon Killebrew used to record his 500th home run, is now preserved in Cooperstown. (Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Harmon Killebrew, pictured during the Washington Senators spring training camp in 1954. (Don Wingfield / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Harmon Killebrew would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, receiving 83.1% of the BBWAA votes. (Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

“In case I miss it on the sports page, would you be sure and inform me whenever Harmon Killebrew hits his 500th home run, so that I can send him a note of congratulations or call him on the phone.”

Killebrew, pictured here while playing for the Washington Senators, would finish his career with 573 home runs, fifth on the all-time list at the time of his retirement. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

All of the hype was a double edged sword for Killebrew, who was a soft-spoken, humble person. When the day finally came, he simply sighed a breath of relief, as if the weight of the baseball world had been lifted off of his broad shoulders.

“I’m glad that’s over with,” he told the Associated Press . “When people keep asking you when you’re going to hit it, you try a bit harder. The only time I thought about it was when people were asking me about it.”

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But Harmon had finally joined the club, and there was no better representative of the Twins organization to do it. Killebrew joined another exclusive club – the Baseball Hall of Fame – in 1984.

“I loved all the Twins, but Harmon was the guy,” explained fellow Hall of Famer Paul Molitor to ESPN , shortly after Killebrew’s passing in 2011. “He was the guy I pretended to be when I played baseball in the backyard, and No. 3 was the number I wanted to wear when I played Little League.”

Alex Coffey was the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame


Timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career

ATLANTA (AP) — A timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career:

1934 — Born on Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Alabama, known as “Down The Bay.”

1951 — Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952 — Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954 — Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0-for-5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957 — Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees 4-3 for what would be the only World Series victory of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the series, hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1958 — Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with two RBIs in the series.

1963 — Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966 — The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight for civil rights.

1968 — Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969 — Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets 3-0 in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1970 — Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971 — Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Willie Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972 — Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973 — Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Kenn Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974 — Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974 — Becomes baseball’s new home-run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-0 pitch from Al Downing over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

1975 — After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the second inning.

1976 — Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977 — Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982 — Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989 — Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999 — Honored by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter, akin to the Cy Young for pitchers.

2002 — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”

2021 — Died in his sleep on Jan. 22.

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Timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career

ATLANTA (AP) — A timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career:

1934 — Born on Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Alabama, known as “Down The Bay.”

1951 — Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952 — Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954 — Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0-for-5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957 — Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees 4-3 for what would be the only World Series victory of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the series, hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1958 — Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with two RBIs in the series.

1963 — Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966 — The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight for civil rights.

1968 — Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969 — Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets 3-0 in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1970 — Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971 — Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Willie Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972 — Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973 — Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Kenn Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974 — Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974 — Becomes baseball’s new home-run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-0 pitch from Al Downing over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

1975 — After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the second inning.

1976 — Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977 — Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982 — Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989 — Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999 — Honored by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter, akin to the Cy Young for pitchers.

2002 — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”


Timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career

ATLANTA (AP) — A timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career:

1934 — Born on Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Alabama, known as “Down The Bay.”

1951 — Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952 — Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954 — Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0-for-5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957 — Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees 4-3 for what would be the only World Series victory of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the series, hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1958 — Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with two RBIs in the series.

1963 — Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966 — The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight for civil rights.

1968 — Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969 — Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets 3-0 in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1970 — Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971 — Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Willie Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972 — Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973 — Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Kenn Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974 — Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974 — Becomes baseball’s new home-run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-0 pitch from Al Downing over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

1975 — After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the second inning.

1976 — Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977 — Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982 — Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989 — Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999 — Honored by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter, akin to the Cy Young for pitchers.

2002 — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”


Timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career

ATLANTA (AP) — A timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career:

1934 — Born on Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Alabama, known as “Down The Bay.”

1951 — Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952 — Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954 — Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0-for-5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957 — Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees 4-3 for what would be the only World Series victory of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the series, hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1958 — Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with two RBIs in the series.

1963 — Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966 — The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight for civil rights.

1968 — Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969 — Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets 3-0 in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1970 — Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971 — Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Willie Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972 — Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973 — Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Kenn Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974 — Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974 — Becomes baseball’s new home-run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-0 pitch from Al Downing over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

1975 — After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the second inning.

1976 — Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977 — Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982 — Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989 — Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999 — Honored by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter, akin to the Cy Young for pitchers.

2002 — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”


This Day in Sports History: Hank Aaron Hits 715th Home Run, Breaking Babe Ruth's Record

Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs during his 23-year career, and his most famous shot, No. 715, came 46 years ago on April 8, 1974. On that day, he surpassed Babe Ruth&aposs record and delivered one of the signature moments in baseball history.

After the 1973 season, Aaron had hit 713 career home runs, and he wasted no time starting the 1974 campaign by homering off the Reds&apos Jack Billingham on Opening Day in Cincinnati. The Braves wantedꂪron to set the record at home, so they benched him for the next game. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn wasn&apost keen on that decision and ordered Atlanta to place Aaron back in the lineup. He went 0-for-3 in the series finale before the Braves headed home. 

Aaron&aposs historic moment came during the fourth inning of the Braves&apos home opener, when Aaron sent Dodgers starter Al Downing&aposs high fastball sailing into Atlanta&aposs bullpen. The 53,775 fans at Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium erupted as Aaron rounded the bases and met his teammates and parents at home plate. 

The game was briefly stopped for speeches from members of Braves organization before Aaron addressed the crowd.

"I just thank God it&aposs all over," he said.

The packed stadium perhaps didn&apost know what he meant by that statement, but his family andਊssistant Carla Koplin Cohn did.ꂪron had been plagued by intense media scrutiny leading up to No. 715, but as an African-American star in a league that had integrated less than 30 years prior, he also received hate mail and death threats. Cohn told Sports Illustrated that she sorted through thousands of letters sent to the Braves star in the events leading up to his home run.


Timeline of Hammerin' Hank's legendary career

When it comes to icons of baseball, sport and American society at large, few names are bigger than Hank Aaron .

Aaron overcame unfavorable odds in the Depression-era South to become an all-time baseball legend, and even more importantly, a man of impeccable grace and character. Muhammad Ali once said that Aaron was “the only man I idolize more than myself.”

Aaron, who died Friday at age 86, built an extraordinary legacy. Here are some of the biggest moments in the life of Hammerin’ Hank.

Feb. 5, 1934: Aaron born in Mobile, Ala.
Henry Louis Aaron was one of eight children (including his brother, Tommie, who would later become his big league teammate) in a family that straddled the poverty line in the Toulminville neighborhood of Mobile. Each family member worked to support the household, including Henry, who picked cotton and worked several other jobs in his adolescence.

Aaron honed his early batting eye by hitting bottle caps with a broom handle, and he became a gifted high school athlete in both football and baseball. In 1947, Aaron ducked school to attend a talk given by Jackie Robinson, a man who would shape Aaron’s motivations and convictions, when Robinson’s Dodgers came to Mobile for an exhibition. Two years later, Aaron’s mother, Estella, let him sign with the semi-pro Mobile Black Bears for $3 per game, on the condition that he only play in local contests.

June 14, 1952: Aaron signs with Boston Braves
Aaron had agreed to a $200 per month contract with the Negro American League’s Indianapolis Clowns in 1951, despite his mother’s wishes that he attend college instead. He immediately impressed, batting .366 and helping the Clowns capture the ‘52 Negro League World Series title.

Aaron’s performance earned him a pair of Major League offers from the Giants and Braves, and Aaron chose Boston’s offer of $50 more per month. Aaron reported to Eau Claire, Wisc., for Class C ball, and after eliminating the cross-handed grip he developed as a boy, batted .336 to claim the Northern League’s Rookie of the Year Award.

While Aaron’s bat was promising, his mental fortitude proved even more impressive when the Braves promoted him to the Jacksonville Tars the next year. As one of five African-American players breaking the color line in the newly desegregated Sally League, Aaron endured taunts and Jim Crow-era discrimination on the road (“Henry Aaron led the league in everything except hotel accommodations,” one writer said) and claimed the league’s MVP honors. He also met -- and soon married -- his wife, Barbara, that year.

April 13, 1954: Aaron makes big league debut
Bobby Thomson famously clubbed the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to win the 1951 NL pennant for the Giants, but his life took another famous turn three years later when he broke his ankle in Spring Training. That opened a spot for Aaron, who started in left field for the Milwaukee Braves’ ’54 season opener in Cincinnati.

Aaron went 0-for-5 that afternoon, but within 10 days, he collected his first Major League hit and home run -- both coming off Cardinals right-hander Vic Raschi. A fractured ankle cut Aaron’s season short in early September, but he placed fourth in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting after batting .280 and knocking his first 13 homers.

Aaron moved over to right field the next year and finished with a .314 average, 27 homers and an NL-best 37 doubles. He placed ninth in NL MVP Award voting and earned his first of 21 consecutive All-Star Game selections. Aaron’s 25 total All-Star nods are a Major League record that might never be surpassed.

Oct. 10, 1957: Aaron, Braves take down mighty Yanks
Milwaukee’s new slugger was just getting started. In 1956, Aaron paced the Senior Circuit with a .328 average, 200 hits, 34 doubles and 340 total bases. He moved to the Braves’ cleanup spot the following year and enjoyed what might have been his best Major League season: A sport-topping 44 homers, 132 RBIs and 369 total bases.

Those numbers netted Aaron his only NL MVP Award in November 1957, but more treasured moments came weeks earlier. On Sept. 23, Aaron clubbed an 11th-inning homer that clinched the Braves’ first pennant in Milwaukee. Then, he hit .393 and knocked three dingers in his team’s thrilling seven-game World Series triumph over the vaunted Yankees. While Aaron led Milwaukee back to a Fall Classic rematch the following year, ’57 would prove to be the only championship of his career.

July 14, 1968: Aaron joins 500 HR Club
While the Braves made just one postseason appearance in the 1960s, the uber-consistent Aaron began racking up accomplishments. In a June 1961 game, Aaron joined lineup mates Eddie Mathews, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas as the first teammate quartet to homer in successive at-bats. Two years later, Aaron followed Ken Williams and Willie Mays as the third player to pair 30-plus homers with 30-plus steals in a single season, and he missed out on a Triple Crown by just seven points to NL batting champion Tommy Davis.

Beginning with his 1957 MVP year through the ’67 campaign, Aaron belted at least 30 home runs in all but one season. That set Hammerin’ Hank up for a big July afternoon at old Atlanta Stadium, when he knocked Giants pitcher Mike McCormick’s third-inning pitch over the left-field wall for his 500th homer. At the time, Aaron was just the eighth member of the 500 Club, and he reached the milestone in fewer seasons than anyone except Mays. Aaron’s pace was one season quicker than Babe Ruth, a name he would hear plenty in the years to come.

May 17, 1970: Aaron gets 3,000th hit
Only six players in Major League history have tallied 500 homers and 3,000 hits, and Aaron was the first to do it. His infield single off Reds rookie Wayne Simpson made him just the third Live Ball Era member of the 3,000-hit club, following Paul Waner and Stan Musial, who walked onto the diamond at Crosley Field to celebrate the moment with Aaron.

Despite founding a statistical club all to himself with the 500-homer and 3,000-hit benchmarks, Aaron still was “not a household name,” in the words of Thomas Rogers of the Cincinnati Enquirer. That would change after the following season, when a career-best 47 homers suddenly raised Aaron’s lifetime total to 639 -- and within striking distance of a moment that would change his life forever.

April 8, 1974: “There’s a new home run champion …”
Baseball has seldom seen moments accompanied by as many eyes and fanfare as Aaron’s at-bats at the beginning of 1974. Months before, Aaron had finished the ’73 campaign with 713 career home runs, leaving him just one dinger shy of tying Babe Ruth for the all-time mark.

That set up an agonizingly long offseason of interviews, questions and trying moments for Aaron. He received thousands of letters every week -- some encouraging, others carrying terrifying messages. Racism remained prevalent in sections of America in 1974, just one decade after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and Aaron received a considerable amount of death threats from fans who wanted Ruth to remain the homer king.

Such threats might have rattled men with less conviction, but Aaron handled the attention with unparalleled grace and focus. He tied Ruth in his first at-bat of the season with a three-run blast off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham. Four nights later, Aaron put the suspense to rest with a blast off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, evoking the famous call, “There's a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron!” from Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton.

Vin Scully, the Dodgers’ legendary voice, summed up the moment best:

“What a marvelous moment for baseball what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”

Aaron would later call Jackie Robinson his hero, “not only for the baseball that he played, but simply because of the person he was.” In refusing to bow to societal pressure and thriving under intense scrutiny, Aaron carried on the legacy of the man he revered.

“I felt the importance of what I was doing was sending a signal to the world,” Aaron said, “and telling people that all you wanted to do was have the playing field level. Just give me an opportunity. I felt that way that not only did I have the world on my shoulders as far as baseball was concerned, but I also had the world on my shoulders to demonstrate to people that, hey, just give me an opportunity."

May 1, 1975: Hank passes The Babe again

A trade in November 1974 returned Aaron to Milwaukee, where he played out the remainder of his career with the nascent Brewers. Aaron’s old fan base got to see him pass Ruth again, this time when he drove home teammate Sixto Lezcano with a single for his 2,210th career RBI.

Ruth’s official total, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, now stands under 2,000, because the Bureau does not recognize Ruth’s RBIs that came before the statistic was formally recognized in 1920. So, Aaron -- unbeknownst to those at the time -- technically had the record already in hand. Aaron’s RBI came with little fanfare at Milwaukee’s County Stadium the ball was retrieved and thrown to the dugout, and play resumed. But while Barry Bonds eventually surpassed Aaron’s 755 home runs, Aaron’s record 2,297 RBIs remain unchallenged.

July 20, 1976: Aaron hits final home run
A crowd of 10,134 at County Stadium saw Aaron knock his 755th homer off Angels pitcher Dick Drago, but few -- if any -- of those in attendance would have predicted that it would be his final blast. Aaron finished the year with 64 more at-bats, but he didn’t go deep again. Thirty-one years later, Aaron would show his grace once more when he congratulated Bonds on his record breaking 756th home run.

Aug. 1, 1982: Aaron gets call to Hall
Only nine votes separated Aaron from unanimous election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, when he earned the second-highest BBWAA voting percentage in history (97.8%) at the time behind Ty Cobb (98.2%). His election alongside Frank Robinson brought historic power to the dais that summer, as the pair combined for a mammoth 1,341 homers across a combined 44 Major League seasons.

Feb. 5, 1999: MLB introduces Hank Aaron Award
When tasked with commemorating the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s record-breaking homer in Atlanta, Major League Baseball found an ideal honor in the Hank Aaron Award, now given annually to the top hitter in each league. MLB announced the award at Aaron’s 65th birthday celebration. The winners, selected by ballots submitted by fans, broadcasters and analysts, are honored during the World Series, and Aaron was usually on hand to present the award.

July 9, 2002: President Bush honors Aaron
Aaron continued to be celebrated into the 21st century. He was named to MLB’s All-Century Team in 2000, and he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton in ’01.

The following year, President George W. Bush presented Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. At the time, Aaron was just the fourth baseball player to receive America’s highest civilian honor, following in the footsteps of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and his hero, Jackie Robinson.

“Hank Aaron overcame poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time,” said President Bush. “By steadily pursuing his calling in the face of unreasoning hatred, Hank Aaron has proven himself a great human being, as well as a great athlete.”


A timeline of Aaron’s life and career

1934: Born Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Ala., known as “Down The Bay.”

1951: Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952: Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954: Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0 for 5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957: Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees in seven games for what would be the only World Series championship of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the Series, hitting .393 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs.

1958: Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with 2 RBIs in the series.

1963: Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966: The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight over civil rights.

1968: Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969: Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets in three games in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs.

1970: Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971: Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972: Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973: Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Ken Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974: Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, Aaron ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974: Becomes baseball’s new home run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-and-0 pitch from Al Downing of the Dodgers over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

The front page of the April 9, 1974, edition of the Boston Globe. Globe archives

1975: After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch hitter in the second inning.

1976: Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977: Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982: Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989: Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999: Honored by Major League Baseball with the institution of the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter in each league, akin to the Cy Young Award for pitchers.

2002: Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”

2021: Died in his sleep on Jan. 22.


Timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career

ATLANTA (AP) — A timeline of Hank Aaron’s life and career:

1934 — Born on Feb. 5 in a section of Mobile, Alabama, known as “Down The Bay.”

1951 — Signs at age 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, where he plays shortstop and draws the attention of major league scouts.

1952 — Signs with the Boston Braves, turning down a slightly lower offer from the New York Giants that could’ve paired him in the same outfield with Willie Mays.

1954 — Earns a spot in the big leagues with the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season. After going 0-for-5 in his debut on April 13, Aaron hits .280 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs to finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

1957 — Earns his only NL MVP award, leading the league with 44 homers and 132 RBIs while batting .322. The Braves win the pennant and defeat Mickey Mantle’s New York Yankees 4-3 for what would be the only World Series victory of Aaron’s career. He is one of the standouts of the series, hitting .393 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1958 — Braves repeat as NL champions and again face the Yankees in the World Series. Milwaukee is within one victory of its second straight championship but loses the final three games. Aaron hits .333 with two RBIs in the series.

1963 — Nearly wins the Triple Crown, leading the league with 44 homers and 130 RBIs but losing out on the batting title to Tommy Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers (.326 to .319). Aaron does become only the third player in major league history to make the 30-30 club with a career-best 31 stolen bases.

1966 — The Braves move from Milwaukee to Atlanta, becoming the first major league team in the Deep South at a time when the region is still embroiled in the fight for civil rights.

1968 — Hits his 500th homer against Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants on July 14.

1969 — Makes his final postseason appearance when the Braves win the NL West title in baseball’s first year under a new divisional format. Atlanta is swept by New York’s Amazin’ Mets 3-0 in the inaugural league championship series, even though Aaron hits .357 with three homers and seven RBIs.

1970 — Collects his 3,000th hit against Wayne Simpson of the Cincinnati Reds on May 17, becoming the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

1971 — Hits his 600th career homer off San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry on April 27, joining Willie Mays and Babe Ruth as the only players to reach that milestone.

1972 — Passes Mays for second place on the career homer list, finishing the season with 673 and setting his sights on Ruth’s record of 714.

1973 — Hits his 700th homer off Philadelphia’s Kenn Brett on July 21. Aaron finishes the season one shy of Ruth’s record.

1974 — Despite intense pressure and death threats that required constant security, ties Ruth’s mark on opening day in his first at-bat of the season, going deep off Cincinnati’s Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium on April 4.

1974 — Becomes baseball’s new home-run king on April 8 in the Braves’ home opener at Atlanta Stadium. Before a record crowd of more than 53,000 and a national television audience, Aaron hits a 1-0 pitch from Al Downing over the left-field fence for his 715th homer.

1975 — After turning down a front-office offer from the Braves that paid significantly less money, Aaron is traded to Milwaukee to serve as the Brewers’ designated hitter and finish his career where it started. He hits .234 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs and makes the last of his record 25 All-Star Game appearances at County Stadium, lining out to shortstop as a pinch-hitter in the second inning.

1976 — Hits his 755th and final home run July 20 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels. Aaron retires at age 42 after hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in the final season of his 23-year career.

1977 — Makes amends with the Braves, beginning a long stint in the front office.

1982 — Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, coming nine votes short of being the first unanimous selection.

1989 — Moves into a largely ceremonial role with the Braves after being in charge of player development.

1999 — Honored by Major League Baseball with the Hank Aaron Award for the top hitter, akin to the Cy Young for pitchers.

2002 — Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, who honors Aaron with the nation’s highest civilian honor for overcoming “poverty and racism to become one of the most accomplished baseball players of all time.”


Watch the video: Hank Aaron hits career homer No. 500