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Hank Aaron, Hall of Fame Baseball Slugger, Dies at 86

Baseball icon broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974

Hank Aaron, one of the greatest baseball players ever and its former home run king, died on Friday. He was 86.

Aaron is among the most celebrated players in the sport and is most notable for breaking Babe Ruth’s all time home run record in 1974, eventually finishing with 755 career home runs. He did so despite facing intense racism in the deep south, even receiving death threats during his pursuit of the record.

Aaron’s record would stand until 2007 when it was broken by Barry Bonds. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank,” Aaron still reigns as the sport’s all-time leader in Runs Batted In (RBI) and total bases.

Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934 and began his professional career in 1952 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League before moving to the Major Leagues a year later. He would debut with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and spend nearly his entire career with the franchise through its move to Atlanta. He would hit his first of his 755 home runs on April 23 of that year against the St. Louis Cardinals.

During his celebrated career, Aaron would make 25 All-Star teams, win the battle title two times, win three gold gloves. Despite finishing with the most home runs of anyone when he retired, Aaron only led the league in home runs in four of his seasons. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1957, the same year he led the Milwaukee Braves to the World Series title over the New York Yankees.

He would surpass Ruth with his 715th home run on April 8, 1974. You can watch his feat below.

In 1999, on the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking the record, MLB created the Hank Aaron Award which is annually given to the best hitter in each league. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2002.