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Former MLB home run king Hank Aaron dead at 86

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the quiet, unassuming baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth’s supposedly unbreakable record for most home runs in a career, died on Friday (January 22), the Atlanta Braves announced. He was 86.

Aaron joined the Braves management to become one of the few African-Americans in a baseball executive position after retiring as a player in 1976 with 755 career home runs. His cause of death was not immediately reported.

Aaron’s hitting prowess earned him the nickname “Hammerin’ Hank,” and his power was attributed to strong wrists. He was somewhat shy and unassuming and did not have the flair of contemporaries Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

Instead, Aaron played with a smooth, under-control style that made the game look so easy that some critics wondered if he was really giving his best. But Aaron was fueled by a powerful inner desire as he overcame an impoverished youth and racial hatred to become one of the greatest and most consistent baseball stars of all time.

Aaron was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. His profile on the hall’s website notes that boxing legend Muhammad Ali called Aaron “the only man I idolize more than myself.” It quotes Mickey Mantle as calling Aaron “the best baseball player of my era. … He’s never received the credit he’s due.”

(Production: Catherine Koppel, Roselle Chen)


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