Both the sports community and country as a whole mourned the loss of baseball legend Hank Aaron on Friday. Although a cause of death was not released, the Atlanta Braves say that he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Aaron’s endless list of baseball accomplishments includes 25 All-Star selections, a 1857 World Series ring and enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His 755 home runs are the second most of all time. He also holds MLB career records with 2,297 RBIs, 6,856 total bases, 1,477 extra base.
Above all, Aaron will be remembered for his strength during a time when Black people were not commonly accepted in America. Aaron started his professional baseball career in the Negro Leagues in 1952. In 1974, as he was approaching Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, Aaron received death threats from those who didn’t want to see Ruth’s record broken. Aaron persevered and hit career home run No. 715 on April 8, 1974. Aaron’s career mark of 755 was surpassed by Barry Bonds on Aug. 7, 2007. Bonds finished his career with 762 home runs.
Tributes for Aaron were aplenty on Friday, as former peers remembered his greatness both on and off the field. Roosevelt alum Mike Lum, who was teammates with Aaron from 1967 to 1974, remembers him fondly.
“Oh, he made a big impact,” Lum said to KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello on Friday. “I can remember the very first day I walked in the clubhouse back in 1967 as a rookie. Seeing Hank Aaron, you go to yourself, ‘Wow. Hank Aaron.’ And this was way before he broke the record.
“But as we went through the years, I played with him for eight years and he was a gentleman, he was a great teammate. He was very quiet. Didn’t say a whole lot, but he was willing to give you his time. If I had any questions, I feel comfortable going up to him and asking him questions. But his legacy is just unbelievable, the legacy that he left in this game and he will be missed in this business. This morning, I got a text from a fellow coach telling me that Hank Aaron passed away, which anytime anyone passes away, it becomes a shock. But I felt it in my heart because I’ve known Hank for so many years and we did things together.”