Major League Baseball icon Hank Aaron died Friday morning.
Aaron, who was a senior vice president for the Atlanta Braves, was 86.
“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” a statement from Braves chairman Terry McGuirk began. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off 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, Dorinda and Ceci and his grandchildren.”
The longtime Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves slugger held the record for most career home runs for more than three decades before Barry Bonds broke it in 2007. Aaron finished his 23-year career with 755 home runs, including an 18-year stretch where he hit at least 24 every season.
Aaron began his career in the Negro Leagues in 1951 with the Indianapolis Clowns, before the Braves picked up his contract. He made his MLB debut in 1954 and spent the next 21 seasons with the Braves before ending his career with the Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76).
Aaron was in the news two weeks ago when he publicly received the first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine with his wife Billye, with the aim of easing doubts about the vaccine.
“I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this,” said Aaron at the time. “It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”
Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1982. Both the Braves and Brewers retired his No. 44.
On April 8, 1974, Aaron hit his 715th home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing to break Babe Ruth’s long-standing record.
A 25-time All-Star and the 1957 National League MVP, Aaron also won three Gold Gloves and still holds the all-time records for RBIs (2,297) and total bases (6,856). He ranks second in homers, third in hits (3,771) and fourth in runs scored (2,174).