Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the quiet, unassuming baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth’s supposedly unbreakable record for most home runs in a career, died on Friday, the Atlanta Braves announced. He was 86.
Aaron joined the Braves management to become one of the few African-Americans in a baseball executive position after retiring as a player in 1976 with 755 career home runs. His cause of death was not immediately reported.
Aaron’s hitting prowess earned him the nickname “Hammerin’ Hank,” and his power was attributed to strong wrists. He was somewhat shy and unassuming and did not have the flair of contemporaries Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
Aaron was in the news two weeks ago when he publicly received the first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine with his wife Billye, with the aim of easing doubts about the vaccine.
“I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this,” said Aaron at the time. “It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”
Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1982. Both the Braves and Brewers retired his No. 44.
On April 8, 1974, Aaron hit his 715th home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing to break Babe Ruth’s long-standing record.
A 25-time All-Star and the 1957 National League MVP, Aaron also won three Gold Gloves and still holds the all-time records for RBIs (2,297) and total bases (6,856). He ranks second in homers, third in hits (3,771) and fourth in runs scored (2,174).