Hank Aaron – Baseball Home-Run King Finally Touches Home Plate

Mr. Hank Aaron and Renee Sudderth at the United Negro College Fund - Atlanta Mayor's Masked Ball

Henry “Hank” Aaron, the Legendary, Baseball Hall of Famer, Record Breaker of Babe Ruth Homerun Record, received numerous of death threats to prevent breaking a white man’s record went to the “Diamond in the Sky” on January 22, 2021 at age 86 by way of Atlanta, Georgia leaving his family and the world in mourning.  He was a huge Humanitarians, Philanthropists and Recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by President George W.  Bush.

Courtesy of Dan McCord

Henry had a humble beginning in Mobile “Down The Bay”, Alabama born to Herbert and Estella Aaron on February 5, 1934. He was fascinated with making a bat and ball with material that he would find lying around. One day he mentioned to his father that he wanted to be a baseball player when he grows up, but his father replied, “there ain’t no colored baseball players”.

Baseball Card – Courtesy of Dan McCord, a native of Hank Aaron’s hometown, Mobile, Alabama

All that changed the day Jackie Robinson, the legendary historical baseball player who broke the color barrier line, came to Hank’s hometown to play a baseball game. Hank didn’t have any money to purchase a ticket to go see the man he admired deeply. Therefore, Hank climbed a tree to watch his hero.  This is when the future legend began “Chasing The Dream” at the early age of 14.  He later established this name for his charity foundation to help underprivileged youth get an education.

Mr. Hank Aaron and Mrs. Billye Aaron (former Atlanta TV Personality) at the United Negro College Fund – Atlanta Mayor’s Masked Ball they co-founded together with Former Atlanta Mayor/U.S Ambassador Andrew Young and his late first wife, Mrs. Jean Childs Young in December 1982 as a fund raiser for the college students which recently celebrated it’s 38th year (virtual) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Hank Aaron professional baseball career was from 1951 – 1976 (age 17 – 42). While in the Negro League for 6 years, he became the MVP in the World Championship Series in 1957, etc.  At age 23, he entered the Major League Baseball (MLB), the same league that his inspirational hero, Jackie Robinson (passed away 1972) broke the color barrier and now he has paved it for Hank and others. While in this league, Hank received numerous awards including becoming a 25 x All-Star, retiring of his Atlanta Braves #44 and Milwaukee Brewers #44 jerseys and many more awards.

Sports Hero Great Hank Aaron’s Statistics – Captured Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) newspaper by Renee Sudderth

Two Negro League Legends together – the late James “Red” Moore (2016) and the late Hank Aaron (2021); Mrs. Mary Moore – Courtesy of Greg White

James “Red” Moore, Negro League “Icon” Player Ends His Game At Age 99 | Splash Magazines | Los Angeles (lasplash.com)

The world came to know him as a Baseball Trailblazer while others knew him as a spiritual, humble, fair, nice, classy, businessman, etc. When he became the owner of Hank Aaron BMW car dealership, he made sure he hired a diverse group of people to represent him and his business. And for incentive to his customers who bought cars, he gave each one of them an autographed baseball card.

He was a true Civil Rights Activist who remained fair and made sure everyone was treated with respect and dignity despite the many years of hearing racial slurs, being discriminated against, receiving hate mail, death threats, being turned away at restaurants, etc.

President Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981), Hank Aaron and Billye Aaron received many awards and honors together – Also known for their many Charitable events and Foundations – Captured from the television by Renee Sudderth

The Honorable Former Atlanta Mayor/Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend said, “Hank Aaron made a huge contribution to the successful desegregation of Atlanta”.

Co Founder with Hank Aaron, Billye Aaron, and his first wife, the late Jean Childs Young for the United Negro College Fund – Atlanta Mayor’s Masked Ball as a fund raiser for the college students – Captured from the television by Renee Sudderth

Former President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) who spoke at Aaron’s funeral said, Hank chased many dreams and chased many more after he retired from baseball, designing to help so many others. Clinton felt Hank’s entire life was truly one long home run.

Here in Atlanta and around the world, many people had great stories to share about this legend and the many places he visited. My best friend Jeanine Jackson and I visited the site where Mr. Hank made his historic 715TH (755 Career Total) Home Run at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974.

Renee Sudderth giving Mr. Hank Aaron his final tribute and wearing her Negro League jacket in honor of Mr. Aaron’s first professional organization and autographed by the late James “Red” Moore (Atlanta Black Crackers) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Jeanine Jackson wearing her Atlanta Braves attire giving Mr. Hank Aaron his final tribute – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Since then, a new stadium was built, Turner Field, named after Ted Turner, the owner of the Atlanta Braves but the architects saved the historic spot where Mr. Aarons’ historic home run was hit. Ironically, the site is in a parking lot but in front of where the 1996 Olympic Torch is located which makes it even more beautiful.

The 1996 Olympic Torch that was carried to this site by Muhamad Ali, the “Greatest” in Atlanta next to the Baseball Field close to Hank Aaron Drive – Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Historical
Site for the King of Home Runs , Hank “Hammerin” Aaron and the Olympic Torch Site in background – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

One lady that was at this site said, “I was actually here on the season home opener against the Brooklyn Dodger the day he hit that home run!! The days leading up to that special day, many white people had threatened Aaron and wanted to kidnap his family if he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record”.

Mr. Hank Aaron will also be remembered as a huge Humanitarian and Philanthropist Captured from television by Renee Sudderth

Hank was known not to be fearful and that day he said it was a calmness that came over him when he hit that ball and ran around those bases at age 40. Even though he and his family were threatened by some of the white race, he broke the record and it was white guys who joyfully and excitedly congratulated him in his moment of glory running around the bases as well as white fans in the stands cheering. Aaron felt this was meant to change history.

Mr. Hank Aaron stepping up to bat in his 23 year professional career – Captured from television by Renee Sudderth

Another beautiful thing is that his parents were there to hug him and witness their son proving to them emotionally, YES, THERE ARE BLACK BASEBALL PLAYERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUE!!!!

The next stop for Jeanine and me was to head 15 miles north of Atlanta to the new baseball stadium known as Truist Park (formally SunTrust Park for a year). We saw a billboard of Mr. Aaron outside then we knew we were at the new Atlanta Brave Headquarters.

Legendary Home-Run King Hank Aaron – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Therefore, his spirit will always be at the new and old stadiums. We wanted to go inside to see the huge Hank Aaron’s Bronze Statue but the waiting line was extremely long so we had to leave.  I was impressed when we walked around on the outside and the gates were called “1st Base Gate”, etc.

Proud Moment with Hank Aaron and his Bronze Statue – Captured from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) newspaper by Renee Sudderth

As our day came to an end, my best friend I kept reflecting on what a great man Mr. Aaron was. Jeanine felt extra special because she had the privilege of eating at his Club 755 Restaurant in Turner Field and he was there interacting and being the nice, humble guy that she remembered. Thank you, Mr. Hank Aaron, for standing up for something you believed in and used your God Given Gifts to bond all races together for the good. You now have reached that special, “Diamond In The Sky!!!”

Mr. Hank Aaron was displayed around the city of Atlanta in honor of his legacy – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Thank you to Mrs. Billye Aaron and family for sharing Mr. Hank Aaron with us. Mr. Aaron has been laid to rest at South-View Cemetery, the same resting place as his friend the late Congressman John Lewis and others.

Mr. Hank AaronNegro League Player, Major League Player, Atlanta Braves Vice-President Director of Player Development to Senior Vice President and AssistantCaptured of Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) newspaper by Renee Sudderth

Click on link: Hank Aaron remembered for his philanthropic work in education | wtsp.com

26 Comments

  1. Renée you as always have written another great tribute/article about Hank Aaron! He was absolutely the best. Thanks for sharing your expertise in bringing an amazing story. We appreciate you Renée!

  2. STARR HAYES – February 28, 2021 – Via Facebook – Loving the Tribute and you and Jeanine look beautiful!!

  3. B. MCCLARY – February 28, 2020 – Via Email – Great article! Thank you for sharing. Lovely picture of you and Hank! Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays hit at least 800 homeruns. Record keeping in the Negro Leagues was shady. He died of a stroke 3 months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. They called him the Black Babe Ruth, others called Babe the white Josh Gibson. He also received death threats and hateful slurs for being so good.

  4. MARY BLAKE – February 28, 2021 – Via EMAIL – Hi Renee. Thanks for the special tribute to our Legendary Baseball Hero Hank Aaron!!!…Continue the excellent work you do as a Photojournalist!!!

  5. DR. PATRICIA BENNETT – February 28, 2021 – Via Email – That was a fabulous write up. You have talent. Sports helps to unite the races. Please create a book of your historic stories.

  6. CAROLINE TATE – February 28, 2021 – Via Email – Renee, what a way to end the month honoring Black History articles with Hank Aaron!! He was another African American baseball player to open the way for our race to follow his footsteps.

    He was a phenomenal example for African Americans to see how a gentleman should exhibit themselves in America. Your article about Hank Aaron continues to let our future African Americans know if he could endure the racism during his time and remain dignity so can they.

    This article represents the courage and respect you can receive if you allow yourself to remain spiritual, humble, fair, respectful and have integrity. Hank Aaron was an excellent individual to let you know, this makes a world of a difference in achieving your goals.

  7. SHERYL L. SMITH – February 28, 2021 – Via Facebook – Great story Renee and footage. Thanks for sharing! And yes it was a great article with a lot of good photo memories. Have a blessed day.

  8. GREGORY WHITE – February 28, 2021 – Via Facebook- Awesome work Renee and thanks for sharing Red (James Moore) in the story.

  9. FRED L. DEVAUGHN – February 28, 2021 – Via Facebook – God Bless You for All You Do. 🍎

  10. DAVID HAMILTON – February 28, 2021 – Via Email – Thanks for sharing this beautiful story Renee!!! You’re the best!

  11. CATHY BURROWS – February 28, 2021 – Via Facebook – You’ve done it again ✊👏👏👏 Thank you for your amazing beautiful creative life telling work 🥰🥰😍😍🥰🥰

  12. SAM LOVE – March 1, 2021 – Via Email – I never knew you were so talented. Did you take all that from Mrs. Harris in English in High School? I’m still a baseball fan. Dad took the older brothers to see the Braves when we were young so they got to see Hammerin’ Hank. Dad would not put up with us on this trip until we were 12 or 13 because he did not want to babysit! By the time I was old enough we had started going to see the Cincinnati Reds.

    I was impressed by the number of pictures and memorabilia that appeared in the article. You must have spent some hours pulling up facts and figures from history. I really enjoy old baseball stories. They are about the players when they were just common folks, not millionaires that wouldn’t give you the time of day today.

  13. JEANINE JACKSON – March 3, 2021 – Via Facebook – Love your work as always Bestie ❤. We had a wonderful time honoring the Home Run King at both stadiums. ❤ his greatness on the field and humble humanity off the field. RIP Hammerin Hank, gone but never forgotten 🙏

  14. Charlton says at seeing you and Hank, “That’s cool!” I agree, You are cool Renee’ Sudderth. Jeni

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