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Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron is an American athlete and Hall of Fame baseball player who held numerous batting records, played in 2 World Series, as well as a record 24 All-Star games. He was an outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves, which became the Atlanta Braves in 1966.

On April 8th, 1974, Hammerin' Hank surpassed the previous record of 714 homeruns set by Babe Ruth. He went on to hit a total of 755 homeruns, with a record 2297 runs batted in. He held the all-time Major League Baseball homerun record for more than 33 years.

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Henry Louis Aaron

Date, time and place of birth: February 5, 1934, at approximately 8:25 p.m., Down the Bay district, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: (Alive as of 2012)

Marriage #1
Spouse: Barbara Lucas (m. October 1953 - February 1971) (divorced)

Marriage #2
Spouse: Billye Williams (m. November 12, 1973)
Wedding took place at the University of the West Indies chapel, Kingston, Jamaica.

Children
Sons: Hank Aaron, Jr. (b. March of 1957)
Lary Aaron (twin born prematurely December 1957)
Gary Aaron (twin born prematurely December 1957 - died in infancy)

Daughters: Gaile Aaron (b. 1954)
Dorinda Aaron (b. February 5, 1962)
Ceci Aaron

His second wife, Billye Williams, is the mother of Ceci, while his other kids, Hank Aaron, Jr., Lary, Gary, Gaile, and Dorinda are from his first marriage.

Parents
Father: Herbert Aaron
Mother: Estella Aaron


Error corrections or clarifications

* At least one source mistakenly reports Hank had just one child. For the record, he had a total of six children, five of which survived to adulthood. Hank Aaron himself acknowledged this in his Baseball Hall of Fame acceptance speech: "I would like to acknowledge the presence of my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Aaron, without whose love and encouragement, this day could not have been. My wife, Billye, who brought an awful lot of sunshine into my life. And I would like to introduce my children, Gaile, Hankie, Lary, Dorinda, Ceci."

Career

"Hammerin' Hank" Aaron is best-known for breaking Babe Ruth's homerun record of 714 career home runs. Hank ended his baseball career with a total of 755 homeruns, and a record 2297 runs batted in. He was with the Braves from 1954-74, and the Milwaukee Brewers (1975-76).

Following his stellar career as an outfielder and powerful hitter, Hank became one of the first African-Americans in Major League Baseball upper-level management when he was named vice president of player development for the Atlanta Braves. He advanced to the position of senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves in 1989. He was also a member of the Atlanta Braves' board of directors in 2007 when it changed hands from Time Warner Inc. to Liberty Media Corp.

Hank was the recipient of numerous civic awards, and also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush.

In addition to his career in baseball management, Hank was a successful businessman, and hands-on entrepreneur. At one point, his Hank Aaron Automotive Group owned BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mini automobile dealerships. He divested himself of most of the car dealerships by early 2007, but retained his 755 Restaurant Corp., and its network of fast-food franchises.

Remaining physically active into his 70s, he enjoyed fishing, tennis, golf and frequently began his day with a pre-dawn workout at the Atlanta Braves' weight room at Turner Field.

In June of 2007, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines honored his Hall of Fame career and humanitarian work by christening a new 757 aircraft the "Hank Aaron 755." The jet features artwork depicting Aaron along with the number "755" to indicate his home run total.

In 2007, as controversy swirled around Barry Bonds and his pursuit of Aaron's all-time record of 755 career homeruns, Hank chose to stay above the fray. "I'm not getting into it. I'm staying out of that," Hank said in regard to the Barry Bonds' pursuit of the homerun record and doping allegations. He'd made the decision not to attend the fateful game in which Bonds' might break his record long before the controversy came to a boil. "If I chased behind Barry, then I would be endorsing everything Barry's doing," Aaron said. "There are still allegations and court cases open and I don't want to be part of it."

The allegations against Barry Bonds regarding possible steroid use brought about questions over the validity of a drug-enhanced home run record. Some labeled Bonds an "embarrassment" and a "cheat" and called his quest for the record a "criminal pursuit." The possibility that the ultimate MLB record could be tainted by player drug use whipped the media into a frenzy. Hank Aaron actually faced criticism over his refusal to either condemn Bonds and his possible drug use or defend him. Through it all, he refused to be dragged into the controversy, continuing to focus his energy on his philanthropic efforts and a big move to his new West Palm Beach home. The Florida home is where he and his wife plan to live out their retirement.

When Barry Bonds surpassed Hank's record of 755 homeruns in August 2007, he graciously offered his best wishes in a video message: "I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader. It is a great accomplishment which requires longevity and determination. Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

Personal appearances, baseball memorabilia activities, and his youth foundation, Chasing the Dream, also kept the major league record-holder busy. Hank's wife Billye was president and co-founder of his Chasing the Dream Foundation, which helps underprivileged children develop their talents and accomplish their goals. Their organization focuses on children ages 9-12 with limited opportunities, and gives them a chance to pursue their dreams in areas in which they have shown early ability. "The most important thing is, if a kid wants to chase his or her dream in music or anything else, we are going to try to help them," the former home run king says. "If someone hadn't helped me, I never would have been able to achieve my dreams."


Sources

The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story, by Hank Aaron (1991)
Hank Aaron and the Home Run That Changed America by Tom Stanton (2004)


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