Baseball icon Hank Aaron dead at 86

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MLB legend Hank Aaron has died at age 86.

The Hall of Famer was the league’s all-time home run leader for over 30 years, after famously surpassing Babe Ruth in April 1974.

A cause of death was not reported. Aaron’s passing was first reported by CBS 46 in Atlanta.

The Braves and MLB confirmed the news and paid tribute to the legend on social media.

Aaron, a 25-time All-Star, was not only a symbol of excellence on the field, but also class and grace in the face of bigotry and threats as he closed in on Ruth’s record.

The native of Mobile, Alabama, retired with a then-record 755 homers.

Aaron, born in 1934, debuted with the then-Milwaukee Braves in 1954, after brief stops in the minor and negro leagues.

He held his own as a rookie before breaking out at age 21 in 1955, hitting .314/.366/.540 with 27 home runs. It marked the start of a 19-year run in which he hit no fewer than 24 round-trippers. He won his only MVP Award two seasons later in 1957, when he led the Majors in both homers and RBIs.

The Braves relocated from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, with Aaron once again finding himself in the deep South where he grew up.

His pursuit of Ruth was marred by hate mail and death threats, which he bravely overcame with his landmark homer on April 8, 1974.

He was still an above-average hitter in a reduced role at that late juncture of his career, and was by most measures still a league-average hitter in his final couple seasons before he retired after 1976 at age 42.

Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility.

Upon retiring he held positions in the Braves front office, as well as in the MLB league offices.

The Hank Aaron Award, introduced in 1999, is awarded to the league’s best overall offensive performer every season. The recipients were chosen by Aaron, a panel of Hall of Famers, and fan voters.

In 2002, Aaron was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Aaron’s home run title was claimed by Barry Bonds in 2007, amid controversy over Bonds’ reported use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds retired with 762 homers, seven more than Aaron, though some consider Aaron’s 755 to be the legitimate all-time mark.

Source: Radio.com

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