Henry L. Aaron
The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2007.
Henry L. Aaron rewrote the hitting records book during a stellar career in major league baseball. Today he is senior vice president of Atlanta National League Baseball Club, Inc. —the Atlanta Braves—and is a successful businessman and civic leader.
Born in 1934 in Mobile, Aaron was a star student athlete in football and baseball, playing semi-pro in the latter sport while still in high school. He was later signed by the Indianapolis Clowns and helped lead that team to win the 1952 Negro League World Series. That same year he was signed by the Boston (later Milwaukee, then Atlanta) Braves. He dominated both Braves farm teams he was on, and by 1954 was in the major leagues, homering in his first spring training game in a Milwaukee uniform. That was just the beginning. Over the next twenty-three years, he set more major league batting records than any player in the game's history, including most home runs, lifetime, 755; most years with 30 or more home runs, 15; most extra-base hits, 1,477; most total bases, 6,856; and most runs batted in, lifetime, 2,297. On May 17, 1970, Aaron became the first player to achieve both 3,000 career hits and more than 500 homers. He was also an outstanding fielder, winning three Gold Gloves, and he was elected to a record 24 All-Star teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York, on August 1, 1982. His autobiography, I Had a Hammer, was published in 1990, and in 1997, a new minor league baseball stadium in his hometown was named in his honor.
Since retiring from playing, he has been an eloquent ambassador for baseball and sports in general, and has been an outspoken leader on the issue of minority hiring in baseball executive jobs. In the business world, Aaron developed a number of auto dealerships and still owns Hank Aaron Toyota. He is a long-time Church's and Popeye's restaurant franchisee and also operates Krispy Kreme franchises in Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia. Aaron sits on the board of Retail Ventures, Inc., Medallion Financial Corporation, Atlanta Technical Institute, the Atlanta Braves, and Atlanta Falcons. He is a member of the Board of Governors for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and is a member of the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center. With his wife Billye, he is the founder of the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation. Aaron has received numerous civic awards, including the Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W. Bush, and the Presidential Citizens Medal, awarded by President Bill Clinton.