On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron walloped a homerun off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing in front of a standing-room only crowd in Atlanta, Georgia. This homer, his 715th, broke the long-standing career record of babe Ruth. For Aaron, on top of the world as the greatest power hitter in the history of the game, it proved to be a bittersweet moment.
For the preceding several years, the baseball world knew the Babe�s record was within Aaron�s reach. With each passing season, the pressure to succeed built to crushing proportions. Even more depressing and discouraging to Aaron was the large numbers of people who wanted him to fail. Babe Ruth had always been the sentimental favorite. Emotionally, it would be difficult to see �The Bambino� relegated to the second rung on the ladder. Racial hatred toward Aaron also escalated as he closed in on the record. Frequent death threats were received by telephone and mail for extremists who vowed to never let him achieve the �sacred� title.
As important as the career homerun record is, it tends to overshadow what was truly a magnificent twenty-two year career. Hank Aaron was an excellent outfielder and had a fine arm. As a slugger, he clearly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the other greats such as Ruth, Mays and Williams. In fact, �Hammerin� Hank� is the all-time career leader in RBIs (2,297) and total bases (6,856) and is ranked second in runs (2,174) and third in hits (3,771). He led the National League in homeruns and RBIs four times each and batting average two times. His career batting average is .305.
Hank Aaron�s finest year was 1957, when he powered the Milwaukee Braves to the pennant by leading the National League in homeruns and RBIs. With their league MVL slugger, the Braves went into the World Series against the perennially dominant New York Yankees. In this grueling seven-game championship, Aaron hit a rousing .393 while his team as a whole batted a meek .209 combined with pitcher Lew Burdette�s three complete game victories, it was enough to hoist the world championship flag over the City of Milwaukee.
Hank Aaron was an All-Star every year he was in the Majors. In 1982, he was elected to the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.
August 13th, 2014
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