Hammerin’ Hank: A Career that Changed the Face of Baseball
Written by Liz Banks   
Friday, 28 February 2014

While Babe Ruth was busy creating records in Major League Baseball, the world was sure that the sport would never witness a greater player. However, little did they know that a star was born in Alabama around the same time. Henry Louis Aaron, or Hank Aaron as he was commonly called, was one of the best baseball players to have graced the game. Born on the 5th of February, “Hammerin’ Hank” or “Hammer” spent 23 seasons at right field in MLB, breaking records set by the legendary Babe Ruth, and creating a few of his own. 

Hailing from a large and poor African-American family, Hank’s career rekindled the romance of baseball, primarily due to his tough upbringing and familial struggles. Few during the 1930s would have expected an African-American to make his mark on the game in the style that Hank did. But like they say, “You cannot keep a good man out,” so it happened that Hank hammered his way to the all-time top home runs charts.

Early Phases of Hammering

His career began in 1952 in the African-American League where he represented the Indianapolis Clowns before turning eighteen years of age and moving to Milwaukee in 1954 to lead the Braves. After eleven glorious years, he decided in 1966 that he would switch to the Atlanta Braves where he would remain until 1974. Aaron enjoyed splendid success during his tenure with both the Braves. A .305 career batting average, 6856 total bases, and 3771 hits in 3298 matches are the figures that set him apart from the rest of the fraternity. His exceptional fielding talents helped him claim three Golden Gloves, and he was also the MVP in 1957. One achievement that remains extraordinary even in the twenty first century, is his 24 appearances in All-Star Games.     

Consistency and Persistence: The Signs of a True Legend

In 1982, Aaron’s efforts saw him inducted into the Hall of Fame, and The Sporting News listed him as the fifth greatest ball player of all time. Although Hammerin’ Hank is best known for breaking Babe Ruth’s record of scoring the highest career home runs, his consistent performances throughout a magnificent career often go unnoticed. He scored 24-plus home runs in each season between 1955 and 1973, and remains the only slugger in baseball history to have scored 30-plus home runs in fifteen different seasons. 

Hank’s consistency aided his progress on the big frame, as he established several hitting records. As of today, he still holds Major League Baseball records for RBI (Runs Batted In) of 2297, the highest number of total bases with 6856, and the highest number of extra base hits at 1477. His 3771 career hits see him placed third on the all-time list, while his 2174 runs are the fourth highest total tied with Babe Ruth. In terms of the number of games played, Aaron’s 3298 matches is the third highest by any player in baseball history, while his 12364 at-bats and 755 home runs are the second highest ever in their respective niches. During his retirement, Hank Aaron held most of the hitting records, making him arguably the best player in the world of baseball, the US had ever seen.