Hank Aaron, left, celebrates opening day at the Hank Aaron Boyhood Home and Museum in Mobile, Alabama, in 2010. Behind "Hammerin' Hank" is fellow Baseball Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson.
Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, courtesy the Library of Congress

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    On February 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama. “Hammerin’ Hank” became a baseball legend. Many of his records, including seasons as an All-Star (21) and runs batted in (2,297) still stand. His home-run record stood for more than 30 years, and he was the first to congratulate his successor, Barry Bonds, when it was broken in 2007.
     
    Like many African American baseball players of the 1950s, Aaron began his career in the Negro Leagues, where he helped the Indianapolis Clowns win the 1952 Negro League World Series. He soon signed with Major League Baseball’s Boston Braves, where he trained in Florida. While in Florida, Aaron was often unable to travel or socialize with the rest of his team due to the region’s racist Jim Crow laws. 
     
    Aaron stayed with the Braves organization for most of his spectacular career. The franchise first moved from Boston to Milwaukee, then to Atlanta. Aaron had mixed feelings about returning to the South. “Returning to the South took some of the boy from Mobile out of me,” he said, “and replaced it with a man who was weary of the way things were. I was tired of being invisible.” 
     
    Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible (1982) with 98% of the vote.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    franchise Noun

    professional sports team, usually found in the United States and Canada, organized with a league-wide business model.

    Jim Crow Adjective

    (1874-1965) set of laws, rules, and behaviors that enforced segregation between African Americans and whites in the American South.

    racist Adjective

    community or government policy of denying certain rights to people based on their ancestry, usually signified by skin color.

    runs batted in Plural Noun

    statistic used in baseball and softball to credit the batter with the total scoring results of his or her at bat, regardless of the athlete's individual scoring result.

    spectacular Adjective

    dramatic and impressive.

    successor Noun

    person who comes next.