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MLB Hall of famer and humanitarian leader Hank Aaron dies at 86

MLB Hall of famer and humanitarian leader Hank Aaron dies at 86

According to an Aaron family insider, Aaron died Friday morning after suffering a massive stroke.

Born Feb. 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama, “Hammerin’ Hank” reached the majors at age 20, when he hit .280 with 13 home runs. He became known as “Hammerin’ Hank,” hitting at least 30 home runs in 15 different seasons and driving in at least 100 runs 11 times.  Aaron played 23 seasons in the major leagues, 21 of them with the Braves franchise.

“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” Terry McGuirk, Braves chairman, said in a statement. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world.  His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”

The larger-than-life sports hero was as recognized for his achievements in his post-playing days as he was on the diamond. Aaron was the one man Muhammad Ali said he idolized “more than myself.”

Having endured death threats for his dominance in the game which was rife with segregation, and surpassing the most cherished record in baseball history, Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns, Aaron became the target of intense prejudice and was denied a number of formal recognitions for his remarkable play.

For most of the 1973 season, as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s record, instead of staying with the rest of the team on the road, Aaron roomed in another hotel, alone, registered under an alias. And in Atlanta, instead of living at home, he bunked in an old storage room in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where teammates brought him food. At one point, FBI agents were dispatched to Fisk University in Nashville, where his daughter’s life had been threatened.

“To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record,” he told USA TODAY Sports in 2014 on the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking homer. “If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

In 1977, Hank Aaron received the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award. In 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility.

Aaron still holds baseball’s all-time record for most runs batted in, with 2,297.

“Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron was 86.

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