Hall of Famer and baseball legend Hank Aaron has passed away at 86.
On Friday, the MLB icon’s former team, the Atlanta Braves, announced that the player “passed away peacefully in his sleep.”
“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts,” Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk wrote in a statement.
“His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his nimble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world,” he added. “His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments of the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.
“We are heartbroken and thinking of his wife Billye and their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorina and Ceci and his grandchildren.”
Born in Mobile, Alabama, to Herbert Aaron, Sr. and Estella Aaron, Aaron played outfield and third base as a teenager for the Mobile Black Bears, a semipro team.
After beginning the 1952 season with the Clowns, Aaron was signed in June by the Braves. The next year, he was promoted to the Jacksonville Braves, their Class-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
In 1954, when Milwaukee Braves left fielder Bobby Thomson fractured his ankle, Aaron took his place and hit his first major league home run on April 23, at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.
Aaron played for the Braves until 1974 and then played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1975 to 1976.
Throughout his career, he has hit 755 home runs, beating the previous record set by Babe Ruth. (In August 2007, the San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds surpassed Aaron’s home run record and went on to hit 762 homers.)
Considered by many to be one of the greatest baseball players in history, Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, in his first year of eligibility.
After news of Aaron’s passing broke, former President Barack Obama paid tribute to the athlete on Twitter.
Hank Aaron was one of the best baseball players we’ve ever seen and one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Aaron family and everyone who was inspired by this unassuming man and his towering example. pic.twitter.com/2RZdc82Y18— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 22, 2021
Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones for their loss.