When you’re discussing some of baseball’s legends, you won’t get long without bringing up the name Hank Aaron. After breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record, Aaron was baseball’s home run king for quite a long time, and some argue he still technically is. Aaron went down as one of the greatest players in baseball history, and for good reason — he had one of the most consistently great runs in baseball history.
Aaron received his fair share of honors during his career. Now he’s received another one, well after he retired. This one has nothing to do with baseball. Just what was Aaron’s latest honor that he can add to his resume?
Hank Aaron career overview
Born in 1934, Aaron debuted for the Milwaukee Braves at the age of 20 in 1954. He spent 21 years with the Braves, moving with them from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. Aaron finished his career back in Milwaukee as a member of the Brewers for two seasons.
Here are some of the major accomplishments of Aaron’s illustrious career:
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total of 143
- 3,771 hits
- 755 home runs
- .305 batting average
- 2,174 runs scored
- 2,297 RBIs (an all-time record)
- .374 on-base percentage
- .555 slugging percentage
- 6,856 total bases (an all-time record)
Aaron also won a Most Valuable Player Award, three Gold Glove Awards, two batting titles, and was named to the All-Star team a whopping 25 times. Baseball Reference compiles similarity scores to put a player’s career into context. It’s no surprise that Hank Aaron compares favorably to some of the all-time greats:
- Willie Mays
- Barry Bonds
- Albert Pujols
- Frank Robinson
- Stan Musial
- Babe Ruth
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Carl Yastrzemski
It’s tough to compare Aaron with anyone because his stats were so good he’s almost beyond comparison. But the players on that list prove what an elite player he truly was. Few players in baseball history can claim to have had as great a career as he did.
Hank Aaron’s life after baseball
Since retiring from the sport following the 1976 season, Aaron has served as an ambassador for not just the Atlanta Braves, but the game of baseball itself. He handled it graciously when Barry Bonds broke his all-time career home run record. He did that even though many questioned the legitimacy of Bonds’ home runs due to his suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs.
To this day, Hank Aaron is extremely active in baseball and regularly attends games and events, such as the annual Hall of Fame ceremony.
Another honor Hank Aaron added to his resume
Aaron’s latest honor in a life full of them was having a building named for him in one of the cities in which he played for many years. Atlanta Technical College renamed one of its buildings the Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron Academic Complex. Aaron received the honor on his birthday as the students, and some former baseball players were present.
To give an idea of how important Aaron is as a cultural touchstone: an ex-president even weighed in to congratulate him. Former president Bill Clinton sent a pre-recorded video message that played at the event.
During the event, Aaron commented on how he’s currently feeling as well as his age, saying that while he doesn’t feel 86 years old, he is, in fact, 86. He also commented on one demographic he feels are underrepresented in the current game:
“I would like to see more blacks in baseball…and it’s just a matter of them going out and playing.”
When asked how MLB can contribute to this, Aaron added:
“They can build more baseball fields…No. 1, they can have more baseball equipment; 2, they can teach coaches in them and learn how to play the game.”
It was a great day for Aaron that combined both the remembrance of his great career with his concern for it. Combined, both of these have made him one of the game’s premier elder statesmen.