BY LESTER AYERDIS
Hank Aaron Childhood
Born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5,
1934, in a poor black section of Mobile,
Alabama, called "Down The Bay," Hank
Aaron was the third of eight children born to Estella and Herbert Aaron, who made a living as a tavern owner and a dry dock boilermaker's assistant.
Aaron and his family moved to the middleclass Toulminville neighborhood when he was 8 years old. Aaron developed a strong affinity for baseball and football at a young age, and tended to focus more heavily on sports than his studies. During his freshman and sophomore years, he attended Central High School, a segregated high school in Mobile, where he excelled at both football and baseball.
On the baseball diamond, he played shortstop and third base.
Love Life /Family
• He married Barbara
Lucas on October 6,
1953, then after a divorce, he married
Billye Aaron in 1973. He has six children: Ceci,
Gary, Lary, Dorinda,
Gaile and Hank Jr.
During Aarons chase to beat the Babe's record revealed that world of baseball was far from being free of the racial tensions that prevailed around it. Letters poured into the
Braves offices, as many as 3,000 a day for
Aaron. Some wrote to congratulate him, but many others were disgusted that a black man should break baseball's most sacred record.
Death threats were also a part of the letters.
Still, Aaron pushed forward. He spoke out against the league's lack of ownership and management opportunities for minorities. "On the field, blacks have been able to be super giants," he once stated. "But, once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again."
Influence /Baseball Career
In his junior year, Aaron transferred to the
Josephine Allen Institute, a neighboring private school that had an organized baseball program. Before the end of his first year at Allen, he had more than proved his abilities on the baseball field.
Then, perhaps sensing that he had a bigger future ahead of him, in 1951, the
18-year-old Aaron quit school to play for the Negro Baseball League's Indianapolis
After leading his club to victory in the league's 1952 World Series, in June 1952,
Aaron was recruited by the Milwaukee
Braves (formerly of Boston and later of
Atlanta) for $10,000.
Positive contributions to the game of baseball
Not was he only the first negro league ball player but he was also the first to break Babe
Ruth’s homerun record. Just like Jackie
Robinson he changed the culture and the way the game was played. He also created a path for many more colored men to play the game.
President Richard Nixon called, and thousands of positive telegrams arrived.
"Having integrated sports in the Deep South,
Aaron already was a hero to me as I sat in the stands that day," President Carter said recently in marking this 40th anniversary. "As the first black superstar playing on the first big league baseball team in the Deep South, he had been both demeaned and idolized in
Carter believes Aaron's success in baseball played a huge role in advancing the cause of civil rights. "He became the first black man for whom white fans in the South cheered," said
Carter. "A humble man who did not seek the…