Hank Aaron is a popular retired African American professional baseball player. He is known for playing in the Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1954 to 1976 and was ranked fifth in 100 Greatest Baseball Players list. He made his reputation by hitting over 24 home runs every year.
Henry Louis Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama to Estella and Herbert Aaron, Sr. One of his seven siblings, Tommie Aaron, also joined Major League Baseball. Aaron grew up in a poor family and could not afford actual baseball equipment. Thus he practiced with sticks and bottle caps and later made himself a bat and ball out of junk material he found on the streets. He studied at Central High School and since the black schools did not have baseball team he played outfield. One of his strengths was his cross-handed batting which rendered him a power hitter.
At the young age of fifteen, Aaron found himself with the opportunity of having tryouts with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Though, he could not make it in the team. Thereupon, he went on to attend a private high school in Alabama, the Josephine Allen Institute and completed his secondary education. At first he joined the Pritchett Athletics and then an independent Negro league team, the Mobile Black Bears. In 1951, Aaron signed a contract with baseball scout Ed Scott, thus began his minor league career with the Indianapolis Clowns. His outstanding performance garnered him two offers from the New York Giants and Boston Braves. He chose Boston team over New York since they were paying fifty dollars extra and later regretted missing the opportunity to be team mates with Willie Mays with New York team.
Hank Aaron was no exception to the racial discrimination that was flourishing in twentieth century America. He recounted an incident when his team was in Washington D. C. waiting out the rain in a restaurant. After they finished eating, he heard the plates breaking in the kitchen because those were touched by the blacks. If the cutlery was used by the dogs it would have been washed instead of broken. The irony of the whole situation was not lost on young Aaron, who was standing in the capital, in the land of freedom and equality.
He began his Major League Baseball career in 1954, attending the spring training MLB club. During his training with the Braves team he played left field and hit a home run. Thus, he was offered a major league contract which he signed and received a uniform with number five. Aaron played 122 games for MLB before he suffered a fractured ankle and consequently changed his number to 44 which he believed to be lucky for him. For the first time he was named to the NL All-Star roster, in 1955.
With a .314 average and 27 home runs, he was named NL Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Aaron won NL MVP Award, in 1957 and reached several milestones in his career. For instance, he became the eighth and second youngest player ever to hit 500 career home runs. He broke the record again with his 537th home run reaching the third place on career home run list. Hank Aaron was honored with NL Gold Glove Awards three times and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1882.