In the Mount Rushmore of American baseball, you’ll find a number of legendary batters of yesteryear that would not feel out of place when you compare their names side by side — Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Stan Musial comes to mind. To round off this legendary quartet, we’d put forth that Hank Aaron should most certainly be included as one of the greatest baseball players in Major League Baseball (MLB) history.
And while Jackie Robinson may have paved the way for players like Aaron to compete in top-level competitions in the first place, it goes without saying that the legendary batter’s own achievement has cemented his place within the ranks of the aforementioned group.
The Hammer AKA Hammerin’ Hank
Born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron began his professional career in the all-time classic American game in 1952. He began his journey to legendary status by playing shortstop for a few months with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League before making his way to the MLB.
The right-hander’s contract was then bought by the Boston Braves of the National League, and he was assigned to the minor league teams — where he played for until 1954 when he was moved up to the majors.
At the start of his career in the majors, Hank Aaron played mostly as an outfielder for the Braves — at this point, the team had moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And in a mere two years in 1956, he won the league batting championship with an impressive average of .328.
The following year, Aaron was named the league’s MVP as he led his team to victory in the World Series.
And by the end of 1965, the Braves had moved to Atlanta in Georgia. At this point in a stellar career, Aaron had already been steadily climbing up the ranks in terms of hitting home runs — hitting his 398th to commemorate the team’s move to a new city. By April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, finally surpassing Babe Ruth’s record which had held firm since 1935.
After this season, Aaron was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, who were at that time still in the American League. Following two seasons with the Brewers, Aaron retired and rejoined his old team as an executive.
For all of his exceptional achievements throughout a fabled career, Hank Aaron was entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. And similar to the Black baseball pioneer, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
In baseball, Aaron’s batting records included totals of 1,477 extra-base hits and 2,297 runs batted in. The aforementioned home run record of 755 was finally broken by Barry Bonds in 2007 clocking in at 762 home runs. Other notable career statistics for the baseball Hall of Famer included 2,174 runs scored, which is only second to Ty Cobb. Whereas, his 12,364 times at bat came in second just behind Pete Rose. Finally, Hank Aaron’s hit total of 3,771 was by far one of the most impressive feats of his career and was exceeded only by those of Cobb and Rose.
With a lifetime batting average was .305, it’s certainly hard to argue against placing Hank Aaron within the ranks of anything but the greats. Coupled with a career spanning across 23 seasons, we’d argue that Hank Aaron more than deserves to stand side by side with the other legends in Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Stan Musial.