Baseball legend "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron has passed away at the age of 86, the Atlanta Braves confirmed on Friday. No further details about his cause of death were shared.
Aaron began his career in baseball in 1951 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the negro leagues. Just seven months after starting with them, he signed with the Boston Braves.
He stayed with the team for 21 years when they moved to Milwaukee and then Atlanta. He debuted in a major league game in 1954 in Milwaukee, after left fielder Bobby Thomson broke an ankle.
In 1974, Aaron hit home run number 715 in a game against the Dodgers, beating Babe Ruth's record. By the end of his baseball career, he would hit 755 home runs.
He came back to Milwaukee in 1975 to finish his career with the Brewers.
Aaron became the first player in the MLB to record 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Earlier this month, Aaron joined several civil rights leaders who received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
“Hank Aaron is near the top of everyone’s list of all-time great players. His monumental achievements as a player were surpassed only by his dignity and integrity as a person. Hank symbolized the very best of our game, and his all-around excellence provided Americans and fans across the world with an example to which to aspire. His career demonstrates that a person who goes to work with humility every day can hammer his way into history -- and find a way to shine like no other," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Aaron was also a noted civil rights activist, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by George W. Bush.
“We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country,” Aaron said in 2014. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”