The sports world lost a legend and praised Hall Of Famer, Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron (86), recently. The retired baseball star passed away in his sleep at home, according to local news stations.
Born in 1934, Aaron lived during the times when just being a Black man in America was within itself a burden to bear. Racism was prevalent and was faced daily back then. The legend always dreamed of becoming a baseball player and following in the footsteps of another baseball great, the late Jackie Robinson.
Aaron played in many baseball leagues, including the Negro League. He became famously known in 1974 when he became the f irst Black man in major league baseball to break a White man’s home run record. He broke the legendary Babe Ruth record with his 715th home run and earned the nickname as “The Home Run King.”
Back then it was unthinkable for a Black man to succeed a White man in that fashion and Aaron used to receive threatening letters in the mail because of his success.
“I couldn’t even open my mail,” said Aaron in an interview.” I had to wait for the F.B.I. to come open my mail for me.”
When he broke Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, his parents met him on the field to greet him, and that was his inspiration.
Although that was a great day and was considered the best day of his life, it was also the worst because of the death threats he would receive.
He was 40 years old then and he continued to press on and further added to the lead of home runs. When he retired, he left the baseball world with a staggering home run record of 755.
In 1982, Hank was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His record stood for many years until another Hall of Famer from the San Francisco Giants named Barry Bonds broke the record with ball number 756.
If you are 30 years or older, you can remember all the fuss over that fortune ball. As it stands, people of color have held the home run record since, and they, like all of the players in the league, do it all for the love of the game and for the fans.
“When I looked in the stands and I saw all those Black people, I just couldn’t let them down,” expressed Hank.