Photos: The life and career of Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 and finished his major league career with 755, a mark that stood for 33 years until it was eclipsed by Barry Bonds. Nicknamed Hammerin’ Hank, Henry Louis Aaron was born Feb. 5, 1934, in Mobile, Ala. He started his professional career at 17 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. He played 23 years in the majors, starting in 1954 with the Milwaukee (later Atlanta) Braves and retiring in 1976 after two years with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jack Harris/AP

On April 8, 1974, Aaron's 715th home run pushed him past Babe Ruth for the most of all time. (AP)

Among his many awards and accolades: National League MVP (1957); NL batting champion (1956, 1959); NL home run leader (1957, 1963, 1966, 1967); NL RBI leader (1957, 1960, 1963, 1966); NL Gold Glove (1958, 1959, 1960); Hall of Fame (1982); Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002).

Aaron was honored by the House of Representatives in 1999 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)



Aaron remains baseball’s career leader in RBI (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856). He was a 25-time all-star.


Aaron debuted with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 and closed his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976. (AP)

Aaron was the first player to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits; never struck out 100 times in a season; and became the third player in baseball history (after Ken Williams and Willie Mays) with at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in one season (1963).

Aaron, pictured swinging the bat in 1974 spring training, finished with a career batting average of .305. (AP)

Aaron was in the top 10 of NL MVP balloting 13 times, finished with a career batting average of .305 and was honored in 1999 with the Hank Aaron Award, which goes to baseball’s top hitter each season as voted on by Aaron, Hall of Famers and fans.

Aaron remains MLB's career leader in RBI and total bases. (Paul Shane/AP)

Aaron reached 700 home runs July 21, 1973, with a blast against the Philadelphia Phillies. (AP)

Aaron never hit 50 homers in a season; his career high was 47 in 1971.

Aaron was honored by then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn after matching Babe Ruth's career home run record April 4, 1974. The go-ahead homer came four days later. (Bob Johnson/AP)

Bob Johnson/AP

Bob Johnson/AP

Aaron had 20 straight seasons with at least 20 homers, eight 40-homer seasons and six seasons with more than 20 stolen bases.

Bob Johnson/AP

Aaron got a glimpse of his statue at the Braves' new stadium in March 2017. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)

The Braves marked the 40th anniversary of Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth's record in 2014. At his side was his wife, Billye. (David Goldman/AP)

David Goldman/AP

David Goldman/AP

The Aarons posed with Hank's portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington in November 2015. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)