ATLANTA — Hank Aaron, one of Major League Baseball's signature icons for all time turned 86 on Wednesday.
He was celebrated as the "Home Run King" for more than three decades.
He wasn't just a force on the field, but an activist for change.
Aaron broke into the major leagues at 20 years old (Milwaukee Braves) and required very little time to assimilate to The Show, batting .280 as a rookie (1954) and then belting 27 homers the following season.
In fact, from 1955-73, Aaron accounted for 700 of 755 home runs, including eight different turns of 40-plus dingers during this period.
And on April 8, 1974, amid the dawn of a new season, Aaron's moon shot off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing surpassed Babe Ruth's all-time mark of 714 homers – one of the most regaled replays in baseball history.
However, those fears weren't realized, with Aaron (a Mobile, Alabama native who had his first tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 15) setting the record at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Aaron (lifetime numbers: .305 average, 3,771 hits, 2,297 RBI) has nearly every individual/team accolade covered, serving as a one-time National League MVP (1957 with Milwaukee), one-time world champion (1957 Braves), two-time NL batting champ, three-time Gold Glove winner, four-time home run champ and four-time RBI champion.
He was also a testament to sustained greatness, representing the Braves (and later Brewers) as an All-Star a staggering 25 times.
Since retiring from the game in 1976, and being inducted into the Basell Hall of Fame 6 years later Aaron has served many roles with the Braves organization. He can still be found at home games at SunTrust Park and remains a popular figure when celebrating momentous occasions in franchise lore.
For example, five years ago on April 8, the Braves jointly celebrated the club's Opening Day and the 40th anniversary of Aaron's 715th home run.