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Hank Aaron dies at 86: Sports world mourns passing of baseball legend

Henry “Hank” Aaron died Friday. He was 86. Aaron, whose 23-year career in MLB ranks among the best — if not the best — ever played, died in his Atlanta home.

He was consistently excellent over his MLB career, which transversed 21 seasons with the Milwaukee, then Atlanta, Braves and two seasons with the Brewers. The first-ballot Hall of Famer won the 1957 NL MVP, leading the Braves to a World Series win over the defending champion Yankees. He was a 25-time All-Star selection — including in 21 straight seasons — three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time batting titleist.

Aaron, who retired after the 1976 season, still holds MLB records for the most career RBI (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856). He is third all time in career hits (3,771) and fourth in runs (2,174). He also is one of only four players to have at least 17 seasons of 150 hits or more.

MORE: That time Hank Aaron duplicated his 715th home run as a 50-year-old

His greatest on-field achievement, however, is his 755 career home runs. He is the only player with 20 seasons of 20 home runs or more, and one of only two with 15 seasons of 30 home runs or more. He claimed the all-time record with his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, just shy of 39 years after Babe Ruth set it at 714. And he did so amid waves of racism, vitriol and hate from those across the country who did not want a Black man to break it.

“What a marvelous moment for baseball … What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.”

RIP Hank Aaron, one of the greatest of all time.pic.twitter.com/kjrvSK19BM

— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) January 22, 2021

Aaron’s is not a legacy that can be contained in one article, or several — not for a man who approached mythical status for generations of fans. That is evident by the waves of mourners and memories that flooded social media following the news of his death:

The New York Yankees mourn the loss of baseball legend Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. His impact on and off the field will never be forgotten. We send our condolences to his family & loved ones. pic.twitter.com/04tuETVAey

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 22, 2021

Nancy and I pass our condolences to all of Hank’s family today. So saddened to hear the news of Hank’s passing. There was a certain spirit, even a reverence, when in Hank Aaron’s presence that you could feel. Grace, strength, integrity. We were blessed to have known him. @Braves

— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) January 22, 2021

I can’t imagine what Hank Aaron went through in his lifetime. He had every right to be angry or militant…..but never was! He spread his grace on everything and every one he came in contact with. Epitome of class and integrity. RIP Henry Aaron! #HammerinHank

— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) January 22, 2021

Hank… my dad and Grandfather raved about you. Thanks for changing the game of baseball… but more importantly thanks for bringing America together through love in a time of such great hate.

Heaven is a good place. #RIPHankAaron pic.twitter.com/D2m7fa4CXs

— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) January 22, 2021

Rest in Peace to American hero, icon, and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. I still remember where I was back in the day when he set the record, at that time, to become the home run all time leader. While a legendary athlete, Hank Aaron was also an extraordinary businessman…

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 22, 2021

We lost an American hero and baseball icon today.

Our thoughts are with the family, friends, fans and loved ones of the great Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. pic.twitter.com/NTknE2NYVB

— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) January 22, 2021

We lost an American hero and baseball icon today.

Our thoughts are with the family, friends, fans and loved ones of the great Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. pic.twitter.com/NTknE2NYVB

— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) January 22, 2021

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is deeply saddened by the passing of sports legend, and Alabama native, Hank Aaron. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/T9Tr8njh1A

— Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (@ASHOF) January 22, 2021

Inbox: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to half-staff in honor of Hank Aaron, a native of Mobile. Ivey: “From his legendary career to his civil rights activism, he inspired many young boys and girls to pursue their dreams and pursue excellence in whatever they do.”

— Brian Lyman (@lyman_brian) January 22, 2021

Super Sky Point to the great Hank Aaron, the man who overcame hate and prejudice to do the unthinkable: chase down Babe Ruth and his legendary mark of 714 career home runs. Let’s relive that magic night in Atlanta one more time. Thank you, Hammer. #RIP pic.twitter.com/eGbIEjF4Yc

— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) January 22, 2021

I’m speechless! RIP to the greatest of all time Mr. Hank Aaron!! I’m just stunned. Hank was the standard of greatness for me. The one man who I acted like a kid around star struck always! He was the definition of class! God Bless you and your family!! #HRKing#HammeringHank🙏🏾🙏🏾

— Frank Thomas (@TheBigHurt_35) January 22, 2021

Hank Aaron’s impact on the game was as powerful as his swing.

His contributions to the sport were immeasurable.

Baseball’s lost a titan. pic.twitter.com/jCjeGZFu6K

— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) January 22, 2021

I called Ambassador Andrew Young to ask what I could do for him since he had done so much for GT and GSU FB Teams. He said, “Show up at Hank Aaron’s 75th Birthday party!” It was one of the best nights ever. For one of the great men ever. God bless you, Hank. pic.twitter.com/HIJvY4NIrO

— Bill Curry (@coachbillcurry) January 22, 2021

Hank Aaron was a good man, and he was a great player. And he had to deal with the incredible fallout that came as a result of a black man who dared to break Babe Ruth’s hallowed HR record.
pic.twitter.com/Ti2WHaK7CM

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 22, 2021

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