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Baseball legend Hank Aaron is dead at age 86. Here’s the legacy he left behind

In this March 1974 file photo, Atlanta Braves outfielder Hank Aaron swings a bat at home plate during spring training. Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given.
Associated Press file photo

One of baseball’s most iconic players, Hank Aaron, passed away at the age of 86, the Atlanta Braves confirmed Friday.

The Braves said Aaron, who left behind a legacy worthy of emulation, died in his sleep.

Hank Aaron’s career highlights

  • His baseball career spanned 23 seasons, including 21 for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and two for the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • Aaron was a 25-time All-Star, a World Series champion (1957), a two-time batting champion and the National League MVP in 1957.
  • He had 755 career home runs, which ranks second all-time, and was the NL home run leader four times
  • In addition to his career home runs mark, Aaron still ranks first all-time in RBIs (2,297), third in hits (3,771) and fourth in runs (2,174).
  • He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, after being named on 97.8% of the ballots.
  • MLB created the Hank Aaron Award in 1999. It’s given to the best hitter in both the NL and American League.

His historic 715th home run

Aaron passed Babe Ruth for the career home runs record with his 715th on April 8, 1974. Aaron held the record as baseball’s home run king for 30 more years before being passed by Barry Bonds.

Work in civil rights

Aaron, who was born in Mobile, Alabama, was a victim of racial inequalities and didn’t play high school baseball because only white players had teams, according to ESPN. He also dealt with threats being made on his life during his pursuit of the home run record.

“This is a considerable loss for the entire city of Atlanta,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement, per ESPN. “While the world knew him as ‘Hammering Hank Aaron’ because of his incredible, record-setting baseball career, he was a cornerstone of our village, graciously and freely joining Mrs. Aaron in giving their presence and resources toward making our city a better place. As an adopted son of Atlanta, Mr. Aaron was part of the fabric that helped place Atlanta on the world stage. Our gratitude, thoughts and prayers are with the Aaron family.”

In 2002, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as he remained an advocate of civil rights.

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