Monday, November 11, 2013

Hank Aaron (#250)

Most know that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's career home run record.  Many know he also played in the Negro Leagues, but lesser known is that he was offered a contract by the Boston Braves and the New York Giants, but chose the Braves (because they offered him $50 per month more than the Giants), thus missing out on playing in the same outfield as Willie Mays.

While still in high school, Aaron had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and played in the Negro Leagues with the Mobile Black Bears. In 1952 he played in the Negro League World Series with the Indianapolis Clowns. That same year, he was signed by the Boston Braves.

He was a 2nd baseman in the minors, playing in class C (1952) and class A (1953) before making his major-league debut in April 1954 at age 20. Aaron started 11 of the first 14 games in right field, then moved to left field, where he started 102 games. After August 25th, he only made 1 start, and was primarily used as a pinch-hitter.

Hank finished 4th in the 1954 Rookie of the Year voting (to Cardinals’ outfielder Wally Moon, Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks, and Braves’ pitcher Gene Conley).

“Hammerin’ Hank” only hit 13 homers as a rookie, but his power kicked in beginning in 1955. He hit 20 or more homers in each of the next 20 seasons, while making the all-star team each season, and leading the league in homers 4 times (3 times with 44) and in RBI 4 times (at least 126 RBI each time). He also led the NL in batting twice (once with a .355 average), and was the NL MVP winner in 1957.

Hank hit .393 and .333 in the ’57 and ’58 World Series, and hit .357 in the 1969 NLCS against the Miracle Mets.

Usually the Braves’ right fielder, he played center field for half of the ’57, ’61, and ’62 seasons. Hank was also the Braves’ regular 1st baseman for the 2nd half of 1971 and all of 1972, before returning to the outfield in 1973.

Aaron finished the 1973 season one home run short of tying Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career homers. He tied the record on opening day 1974 in Cincinnati, and broke the record during the Braves’ first home game.

After 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, Aaron was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in November 1974 for outfielder Dave May. Hank played his final 2 seasons as the Brewers’ DH (full-time in ‘75, and part-time in ’76). He finished with 755 career home runs.

After his playing career, Aaron became a front-office executive with the Braves.

Hank's younger brother Tommie was his teammate from 1962 to 1971.

1 comment:

Erik said...

What a dream team to have in the outfield with Hank and Willie Mays