Year
1934
Month Day
February 05

Hank Aaron is born

On February 5, 1934, Henry Louis Aaron Jr., the baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers, is born in Mobile, Alabama.

Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major league in 1954, eight years after Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball. Aaron was the last Negro League player to compete in the majors. He quickly established himself as an important player for the Braves and won the National League batting title in 1956. The following season, he took home the league’s MVP award and helped the Braves beat Mickey Mantle and the heavily favored New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1959, Aaron won his second league batting title.

Season after season, Aaron turned in strong batting performances. “Hammerin’ Hank” hit .300 or higher for 14 seasons and slugged out at least 40 homers in eight separate seasons. In May 1970, he became the first player in baseball to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Aaron is best known, however, for breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, which he established in 1935. On April 8, 1974, in front of a crowd of over 50,000 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Aaron hit his 715th career home run in the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sadly, in the months leading up to the new record, Aaron received piles of racist hate mail and death threats from those unhappy about seeing the Babe’s record broken, especially by a black man.

Aaron, who played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 1974, spent the final two seasons of his 23 years in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers. When he retired in 1976, he left the game with 755 career home runs, a record that stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Aaron still holds the records for most career runs batted in (2,297), most career total bases (6,856) and most career extra base hits (1,477). After retiring as a player, Aaron became one of baseball’s first black executives, with the Atlanta Braves. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

Tags
terms:
Baseball

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

FDR announces “court-packing” plan

On February 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt announces a controversial plan to expand the Supreme Court to as many as 15 judges, allegedly to make it more efficient. Critics immediately charged that Roosevelt was trying to “pack” the court and thus neutralize Supreme Court ...read more

Roger Williams arrives in America

Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island and an important American religious leader, arrives in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England. Williams, a Puritan, worked as a teacher before serving briefly as a colorful pastor at Plymouth and then at Salem. Within a few ...read more

Mexican constitution proclaimed

After seven years of revolution and civil upheaval, Mexican President Venustiano Carranza proclaims the modern Mexican constitution, which promises the restoration of lands to native peoples, the separation of church and state, and dramatic economic and educational reforms. The ...read more

Hitler to Mussolini: Fight harder!

On February 5, 1941, Adolf Hitler scolds his Axis partner, Benito Mussolini, for his troops’ retreat in the face of British advances in Libya, demanding that the Duce command his forces to resist. Since 1912, Italy had occupied Libya because of purely economic “expansion” ...read more

Millard Fillmore marries Abigail Powers

On February 5, 1826, Millard Fillmore, who later becomes the 13th president of the United States, marries Abigail Powers, a New York native and a preacher’s daughter. As a youngster, Abigail’s mother encouraged her daughter’s interest in reading and urged her to take advantage ...read more