After retiring from baseball at the end of the 1976
season, the great Hammerin’ Hank Aaron set his sights on succeeding in business
and helping underprivileged young people achieve their dreams.
The business side of his post-MLB life blossomed he
became one of the first African Americans to own a BMW dealership, according to
Black Enterprise magazine, and owned several other Georgia-based auto
showrooms, although he has since sold all but one of the Hank Aaron Automotive
And after serving up a steady diet of line drives, homers
and highlights to baseball fans for more than two decades, Mr. Aaron’s 755
Restaurant Corp. is now feeding the masses via twenty Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, five Church's Chicken, and
two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts units.
Together with his wife Billye, he founded the “Hank Aaron
Chasing the Dream Foundation”, which provides financial assistance to
underprivileged youths seeking to pursue their talents and better themselves
through education. The 501C3 non-profit received a significant endorsement recently, when the living legend
dedicated the new exhibit "Hank Aaron-Chasing the Dream" at the
Baseball Hall of Fame. Locally,
funds for the foundation come from the Hank Aaron Golf Tournament held each
summer in the Milwaukee area. It is administered from Atlanta, Hank's current
home, with proceeds targeted toward youths in Atlanta and Milwaukee.
His many honors and awards include twenty-four All-Star
Game appearances; the Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Bush; and the
Presidential Citizens Medal, awarded by President Clinton; and the Boy Scouts
of America’s highest honor, The Silver Buffalo Award For Distinguished Service
To Youth, which is presented annually to adults who generously dedicate their
time and resources for the benefit of America's youth.
But Hank Aaron’s most prized honor came on August 1, 1982
when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and received votes on 97.8
percent of the ballots. At the time, only Ty Cobb received a higher percentage
(98.2) of votes cast.
Since December 1989, he has served as senior vice
president and assistant to the Braves' president. He also served as the
corporate vice president of community relations for TBS, a member of the
company's board of directors and the vice president of business development for
The Airport Network, as well as the Atlanta Technical Institute, Ports
Authority of Georgia, and the Atlanta Braves, and is a member of the Board of
Governors for Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
On February 5, 1999, at his 65th birthday celebration,
Major League Baseball announced the introduction of the Hank Aaron Award. It
was the first major award to be introduced in more than thirty years, and it was
also the first award named after a player who was still alive.