Hank Aaron: Stories, Biography, & Things You Didn't Know About The Sports Legend

By Jacob Shelton

A baseball signed by Hank Aaron. (Arturo Pardavila III/Wikimedia Commons)

It's not hyperbole to say that baseball wouldn't be the same without Hank Aaron, the right fielder from Mobile, Alabama whose talent was so inherent that he transcended the profession of "baseball player" and became a living legend. Throughout his career, Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record with 755 balls knocked into the stands, and in his first year of eligibility, he was inducted into the M.L.B. Hall of Fame. Aaron went on to become the Senior Vice President of the Atlanta Braves and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but all of that is just a small part of Aaron's story. In his 86 years, he changed the sport that made him famous and inspired people to reach for the stars regardless of where they come from.

Bottle Caps And Baseball

In 1934, Hank Aaron was born in Mobile as one of seven siblings, including Tommie Aaron, who joined Hank in the M.L.B. The family couldn't afford sporting equipment, so Aaron practiced his swing by hitting bottle caps with broken branches, broom handles, or sticks. As a student at a high school with no baseball team, he tried out for and won a spot as an outfielder and third baseman for the semi-pro Mobile Black Bears, who paid him $3 a game.

In 1951, he was signed to the Indianapolis Clowns and spent three months playing with the team, during which time he contended with low pay, bad teammates, and rampant racism. While traveling through Washington, D.C. with the Clowns, he recalled, he heard the kitchen staff of a restaurant break all the plates the team had used after they ate breakfast. He wasn't with the Clowns for long, as he was soon courted by both the New York Giants and Boston Braves, selecting the Braves because they offered him $50 more per month.