Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama - January 22, 2021), nicknamed "Hammer" or "Hammerin' Hank," was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder. He played 21 seasons for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) and two seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League (AL), from 1954 through 1976. At Atlanta's Fulton-County Stadium on Monday, April 8, 1974, Aaron hit his 715th career home run, which put him in first place on the all-time list ahead of Babe Ruth. He held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years, and he still held several MLB offensive records at the time of his death. He hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973, and was one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked Aaron fifth on its "100 Greatest Baseball Players" list.
- I never smile when I have a bat in my hands. That's when you've got to be serious. When I get out on the field, nothing's a joke to me. I don't feel like I should walk around with a smile on my face.
- As quoted in the July 31, 1956 issue of The Milwaukee Journal; reproduced in Baseball's Greatest Quotations : An Illustrated Treasury of Baseball Quotations and Historical Lore (2009) by Paul Dickson, p. 2
- I like those lefties, but when you're hitting, all pitchers look alike. I don't care too much who's throwing or what he throws. When my timing is off, I have trouble; when it ain't, I don't.
- As quoted in "Aaron Turns Bad Pitches Into Base-Hits" by Cleon Walfoort, in The Sporting News (June 26, 1957)
- Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit.
- Response to Yogi Berra, who told him to turn his bat around so he could see the trademark during the 1957 World Series, as quoted in Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes (2000) by Clifton Fadiman and André Bernard
- [W]hen I was a little boy, my daddy said to me, "Henry, never hurry unless you have to." I've remembered that all my life and here I am in the major leagues.
- Hello, Stonefingers.
- He was my favorite hitter. He could do almost anything he wanted to do at bat. He was a scientific hitter. I've seen him deliberately go for the home run late in a game and get it. Even if it meant pulling an outside pitch, he'd pull because he'd made up his mind to do it. Another thing I liked about him was the power he generated when he hit the ball between the infielders. This is a sure sign of a great hitter.
- On Stan Musial, as quoted in "The Scoreboard: Braves' Aaron Among Best of Bargains" by Les Biederman, in The Pittsburgh Press (August 30, 1967)
- Terrible. It took me 17 years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.
- In response to Jack Nicklaus' query, "What kind of golfer are you?"; as quoted in "Aaron Has Career in Day" by the Associated Press, in The Atlanta Constitution (February 23, 1971)
- I'm not trying to make anyone forget the Babe; but only to remember Hank Aaron.
- When asked how he felt breaking Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs, as quoted in "I Just Want People to Remember Hank Aaron" by Tom Saladino (AP), in The Mexia Daily News (July 27, 1974)
- There wasn't any pitcher I felt I couldn't get a hit off.
- As quoted in The Greatest Team of All Time: As Selected by Baseball's Immortals, from Ty Cobb to Willie Mays (1994), compiled by Nicholas Acoccella and Donald Dewey, p. 3
- When he was healthy, there was nobody better than Campanella as both a catcher and a hitter. But I played with Del Crandall a long time and he was a match for anybody defensively.
- As quoted in The Greatest Team of All Time, p. 3
I Had a Hammer : The Hank Aaron Story (1990)
- I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story (1990), co-written with Lonnie Wheeler
- The way I see it, it's a great thing to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it's a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit. So as long as there's a chance that maybe I can hammer out a little justice now and then, or a little opportunity here and there, I intend to do as I always have — keep swinging.
- Ch. 1
- Guessing what the pitcher is going to throw is 80 percent of being a successful hitter. The other 20 percent is just execution. The mental aspects of hitting were especially important to me. I was strictly a guess hitter, which meant I had to have a thorough knowledge of every pitcher I came up against and develop a strategy for hitting him. My method was to identify the pitches a certain pitcher had and eliminate all but one or two and then wait for them. One advantage I had was quick wrists. Another advantage — and one that all good hitters have — was my eyesight. Sometimes I could read the pitcher's grip on the ball before he ever released it and be able to tell what pitch he was throwing. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them.
- Also quoted in Hank Aaron (2007) by Jamie Poolos, p. 48
Quotes about Aaron
- In the decades to come, the memory of the scene might blur. But the memory of the sound will remain with everyone who was here. Not the sound of the cheers, or the sound of Henry Aaron saying "I'm thankful to God it's all over," but the sound of Henry Aaron's bat when it hit the baseball tonight... At home plate, surrounded by an ovation that came down around him as if it were a waterfall of appreciation, he was met by his teammates who attempted to lift him onto their shoulders. But he slipped off into the arms of his father Herbert Sr., and his mother Estella, who had hurried out of the special box for the Aaron family near the Braves' dugout. "I never knew," Aaron would say later," that my mother could hug so tight."
- Dave Anderson of The New York Times on Aaron hitting his record-setting 715th home run, quoted in Covering the Bases: The Most Unforgettable Moments in Baseball in the Words of the Writers and Broadcasters who Were There (1997) by Benedict Cosgrove ISBN 0-811-81150-6), p. 149
- Sure, Aaron's a bad-ball hitter and always will be, but it would be a mistake to try to change him. Clemente got only 13 bases on balls all last season, so this spring we tried to get him to look over the pitches more carefully. He got to taking strikes and got himself so fouled up generally that we told him to forget the whole thing and go back to doing what comes naturally. You don't try to change a hitter like Aaron. In my book he's a better hitter than Willie Mays. He's going to get better, too. He'll be the one to beat for the batting championship for ten years, maybe more. He's the first N.L. player since Bill Terry with something better than an outside chance to hit .400 before he's through.
- Bobby Bragan, as paraphrased and quoted in "Aaron Turns Bad Pitches Into Base-Hits" by Cleon Walfoort, in The Sporting News (June 26, 1967)
- I would have to say myself, but it would not look good for me to say it. I just have confidence I am the best because I believe in myself. If I had to pick another player, it would be Hank Aaron. He does everything so well.
- Sure, Henry Aaron has a hitting weakness. It's a pitch with something on it right across the letters and in close. But that's the batting weakness of every great hitter, regardless of what else he can or can't hit.
- Rogers Hornsby, as quoted in "Aaron Turns Bad Pitches Into Base-Hits" by Cleon Walfoort, in The Sporting News (June 26, 1967)
- There were now men on first and second. The batter was Henry Aaron. I walked him on four straight balls, which was probably the smartest thing I did all year. There have been many times since when I wished I had been wild enough to walk Henry Aaron. I'm usually backing up third as I am wishing it.
- Sandy Koufax, in Koufax (1966) by Koufax with Ed Linn, pp. 96-97
- It was this penchant for power hitting to the "wrong" field that caused Stan Musial to describe Aaron as an "arrogant" hitter. "He thinks there's nothing he can't hit,' says Musial. "He'll have to learn there are some pitches no hitter can afford to go for. He still has something to learn about the strike zone."
- Stan Musial, as paraphrased and quoted in "Aaron Turns Bad Pitches Into Base-Hits" by Cleon Walfoort, in The Sporting News (June 26, 1967)
- Aaron is the only man in baseball who can fall asleep between pitches, then wake up and knock the next one out of the park.
- It worked out just right. I've had to try to catch Aaron virtually all my career. But he's the home run king, so that means he's the cleanup hitter. That means I got into the Hall of Fame before he did.
- Frank Robinson, as quoted in "Aaron, Robinson Enshrined" by Larry Whiteside, in The Boston Globe (August 2, 1982)