Hank Aaron, MLB Hall of Famer and Braves Legend, Dies at Age 86

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2021

National Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron arrives for an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Mike Groll/Associated Press

Legendary Baseball Hall of Famer Henry "Hank" Aaron died Friday at the age of 86. 

"Mr. Aaron passed away peacefully in his sleep," a spokesperson for Aaron said, per CNBC's Jess Golden. "The family asks for privacy at this time."

The Atlanta Braves also confirmed the news:

Aaron, who spent 23 MLB seasons with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, was one of the most prodigious sluggers in baseball history.

His 755 career home runs are second on the all-time list behind only Barry Bonds, who broke the record in 2007 and ended his career with 762 homers.

Aaron—a Mobile, Alabama, native—became the home run king April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th career home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, breaking a tie with New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken; heart sick," former MLB commissioner and Brewers owner Bud Selig said Friday, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "This is so devastating."

Selig added"When you think back to what he accomplished on the field, he was an even greater man off it. He was the same nice, wonderfully decent human being that I first met in 1958."

Current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement on Aaron's death, noting the Braves legend "symbolized the very best of our game":

Journalists Dan Rather, Jon Morosi and Jon Heyman were a few of the many who mourned the loss of Aaron on Friday:

Despite his status as the home run king for more than 30 years, Aaron remarkably never hit 50 homers in a season. His career high was 47 in 1971, but his consistency and longevity allowed him to hit over 750 home runs in his career.

Aaron was a high-level power hitter even into the latter stages of his career. He slugged 40 homers in 1973, which was his age-39 season.

Aside from the home runs, Aaron also posted a career batting average of .305, drove in an MLB-record 2,297 runs, scored 2,174 runs and recorded 3,771 hits. In addition to ranking first all-time in RBI and second all-time in home runs, Aaron is third on the all-time list in hits and fourth in runs scored.

Aaron was remarkably named an All-Star 25 times during his career, as there were a few seasons during his career in which two All-Star Games were played during the same season.

He led baseball in home runs four times, but he proved he was more than just a power hitting by winning two batting titles and three Gold Gloves as an outfielder early in his career.

Aaron was named National League MVP in 1957 when he hit .322 with 44 home runs and 132 RBI. Hammerin' Hank also won his first and only World Series that year, hitting .393 with three home runs and seven RBI in the Fall Classic against the Yankees.

In three career playoff appearances, Aaron hit .362 with six homers and 16 RBI, proving he could get it done even on the game's biggest stage.

Aaron spent the final two seasons of his career with the Brewers and retired following the 1976 campaign. It didn't take long for him to assume his rightful place in baseball immortality, as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 with 97.8 percent of the vote.

While Aaron is best known for his on-field excellence, he spent many years in the Braves' front office after retiring. Aaron was initially vice president and director of player development before becoming senior vice president and assistant to the Braves' president.

Aaron was one of the first people of color to hold a major position in an MLB team's front office, making him a trailblazer even after his illustrious playing career ended.