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Friday, January 22, 2021

Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron dies at 86.

Hall of Famer and one-time home run king Atlanta Braves legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away this morning at the age of 86, CBS46 has learned. He leaves behind an indelible legacy on and off the baseball diamond.

...

It was the 1974 season that saw Aaron smash his way into the national consciousness. On April 8, 1974 Hammerin’ Hank, as he was known, crushed a 1-0 pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing over the left field wall at Fulton County Stadium and broke Babe Ruth’s long-time home run record of 714 home runs in a career.


—and we’ve lost another one.

Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 10:39 AM | 152 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, hank aaron

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   1. Rally Posted: January 22, 2021 at 10:50 AM (#6001163)
Darth Vader said it best.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
   2. Booey Posted: January 22, 2021 at 10:57 AM (#6001166)
Good Lord. These past 9 months or so have been ridiculous.

RIP, Hank. One of my all time favorites, despite retiring before I was even born.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 10:58 AM (#6001167)
Of all the shitty Hall of Fame deaths over the past nine months, this one hits the hardest for me.

I saw Hank (and Willie) come off the bench in my first big league game (when Don Hahn and George Theodore collided in center). Then I was in Cooperstown for his induction, the only one I've ever attended.

RIP Hank.
   4. jingoist Posted: January 22, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6001168)
No other sport has lost more luminaries than MLB over the past 12 months.
We have lost a big chunk of our all-time greats.
And from what little I have seen about the specifics of their collective deaths, Covid wasn’t mentioned as the cause.
So sad
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:01 AM (#6001169)
####. This one hurts.

Growing up after he had retired, I mainly knew of Aaron as the guy with the HR record. It wasn’t until I was older that I fully appreciated how impressive he was, as a human being as well as a player. RIP.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:02 AM (#6001170)
Posted a .903 OPS at age 21 and a 1.045 OPS at age 39, an insanely long stretch of peak performance. Just a true legend, and a class act off the field in the face of tremendous adversity.
   7. asinwreck Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:04 AM (#6001171)
I've never been one for autographs, but I eagerly took an opportunity to get a ball signed by Mr. Aaron in 1979. The signature's a little faded now, but it is still a treasured possession.

I Had a Hammer is worth a read to understand what this man achieved in the times he had to face.
   8. Ron J Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:05 AM (#6001172)
One of the first players I picked as a favorite when I first started to follow the game. RIP.
   9. The Duke Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:06 AM (#6001173)
Henry Aaron. Another tremendous player leaves us. Such a shame. It’s beginning to look like the 2021 team of greats might give the 2020 team of greats a run for their money in a best of seven.
   10. reech Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:06 AM (#6001174)


I saw Hank (and Willie) come off the bench in my first big league game (when Don Hahn and George Theodore collided in center).


I was at that game too!
   11. Ron J Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:11 AM (#6001175)
#6 Or by WAR an extended prime between age 21 and 37 with no years below a WAR of 5.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:14 AM (#6001176)
Only one MVP, but finished in the top three in MVP voting six other times. Is there a case he should have won more?
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:19 AM (#6001177)
I went to my first Red Sox game in 1976. I had a chance to go in 1975 but my cousin told me I was insistent that "if Henry Aaron isn't playing I'm not going." RIP Hank.
   14. . . . . . . Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:23 AM (#6001178)
And from what little I have seen about the specifics of their collective deaths, Covid wasn’t mentioned as the cause.


Just like back in the day, people didn't die of AIDS, they died of "pneumonia".
Or they didn't die of cancer, they died of "a long illness".

Maybe it's just random chance that all these people at high risk for COVID are dying all at once . . . but sometimes occums razor.

(FWIW, as newer sports, basketball and football simply have fewer elderly greats. Hank Aaron was a star even before the NFL was a national sport (1958).)
   15. Gary Truth Serum Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:23 AM (#6001179)
Only one MVP, but finished in the top three in MVP voting six other times. Is there a case he should have won more?

I remember Henry saying he thought his "only" one MVP award was the product of racism, but that is easily dispelled by noting that from 1954 to 1969 the award was won 13 times by African Americans. So the question then becomes whether he had better seasons than the likes of Roy Campanella, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Maury Wills and others.
   16. Ron J Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6001180)
#12 Not really. I mean yes, he was better than Frank Robinson in 1961 but surprise pennant winner, and a great year by Robinson. Maybe he "should" have won then but Robinson would always have been a heavy favorite.

His career overlaps Willie Mays' and an off year for Mays in his prime was 8 WAR.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:27 AM (#6001181)
RIP
   18. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6001183)
My childhood was tumultous, like is true for many people. Accordingly, I spent most of it wanting to run away from home - I'd make plans, leave, only to return after a few hours because I had younger siblings and for other reasons. Anyway, one time when I left I made the split second decision to walk to Hank Aaron's house. I was clearly young as there's no rationale there, which I realized a mile or two in, that I'd never want to actually bother the man. I was home before dinner.

Why I mention this is is hopefully obvious, my kid brain understood Aaron as a beacon, of decency, of perserverance. Kid brain was right on that, at least. RIP Hank, you were a special guy.
   19. dcpi Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:36 AM (#6001187)
My first game was Expos v Braves at Jarry Park. Went to the airport after the game to meet The Hammer as they left Montreal, This was the game: https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1971/B05270MON1971.htm
   20. Hank Gillette Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#6001188)
Only one MVP, but finished in the top three in MVP voting six other times. Is there a case he should have won more?
Just going by WAR, you could argue that he should have won in 1961, where he was the clear league leader, but finished eighth in the voting. In 1957, he finished second in WAR to Willie Mays, but it was close (8.0 to 8.3), and Aaron was the best player on the pennant-winning team, so you can’t say it was undeserved.

Despite only the one win, he is tied for eighth in MVP shares, along with Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig.

Bottom line: it is tough to be the best player in your league when you are in the same league as Willie Mays.
   21. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:37 AM (#6001189)
but sometimes occums razor.

He was 86. He could have been in really good health and just pass away suddenly at that age.
   22. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6001190)
[12] Fwiw, he led the league in WAR just once (though not the year he won the MVP). Aaron was interesting in that he didn't have any all-time great season; he was just excellent for a really long time. He had a 14 year stretch where his WAR was 6.8 to 9.5 in every season. Fitting that he held the HR record for a long time despite never hitting 50 in a season.
   23. JRVJ Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:42 AM (#6001191)
Good grief.

Hank was as Inner Circle HoFer as you could be. This is a true loss, and it keeps making the next HoF reunion all the more poignant AND precious at the same time.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:46 AM (#6001193)
I saw Aaron in the 1956 All-Star game, where he came in as a late inning replacement, but my only real in-person memory of Aaron was in a 1971 game in Dodger Stadium where he hit an 8th inning home run to begin a Braves comeback. I've still got the scorecard.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:47 AM (#6001194)
So who's left from that 50's-early 60's Inner Circle crowd? Mays, Koufax, anyone else?
   26. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6001195)
RIP. The Pirates could always hit when I was a kid, but the Braves scared the heck out of me with Torre, Felipe Alou, and Carty. Aaron was the constant.

I'm starting to be more surprised that McCovey and Frank Robinson were the only 50 WAR guys we lost in 2018-19.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:51 AM (#6001196)
Brooks Robinson is still around.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6001197)
Yaz and Gaylord Perry.
   29. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6001198)
Of all the shitty Hall of Fame deaths over the past nine months, this one hits the hardest for me.


Same here. I was bummed with the others but now I'm crying. I didn't even know him but he was a hero for me.

I second the suggestion to read I Had a Hammer. If you don't want to read the whole thing just read the chapters on integrating the South Atlantic League and the home run record. He was as important as Jackie Robinson in the fight against white supremacy in baseball.
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6001199)
I was thinking more of those who started in the 50's and were established in their primes by the early 60's. Other than Mays and Koufax, the only others I can think of now would be Marichal and maybe Brooks. Yaz and Perry didn't come up until 1961 and 1962.
   31. Mefisto Posted: January 22, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6001200)
####, this is sad.
   32. Rally Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:02 PM (#6001202)
My favorite Hank Aaron season was the one where his HR total matched his uniform number.

He's kind of like Don Sutton in that every season looks about as good as every other season for most of 20 years. Except that in Hank's case, his average season would be an awesome peak for most HOFers.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6001203)
I was thinking more of those who started in the 50's and were established in their primes by the early 60's. Other than Mays and Koufax, the only others I can think of now would be Marichal and maybe Brooks. Yaz and Perry didn't come up until 1961 and 1962.


Cepeda.
   34. TDF, trained monkey Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:04 PM (#6001206)
And from what little I have seen about the specifics of their collective deaths, Covid wasn’t mentioned as the cause.
COVID and dimentia were listed as contributing to Seaver's death.

Average life expectancy for a male in the US is 78. Of the HOFers who've died in the last 13 months, Seaver, Sutton (cancer), Morgan ("neuropathy") and Allen (not a HOFer, no cause given) were the only ones that age or younger. Lasorda and Ford were in their 90s, Aaron and Kaline 85+.

The deaths of our childhood heroes means only one thing - we're getting old.

***
FWIW, as newer sports, basketball and football simply have fewer elderly greats.
Those sports have changed much more than MLB over the years. The NFL or NBA greats of past decades are seen as inferior to today's athletes even though they were as great as their contemporaries in MLB. Guys like Otto Graham and Johnny Unitas were truly all-time greats, but the game is so different today that stats don't show it.
   35. asinwreck Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:10 PM (#6001209)
Dick Allen had cancer. The tribute in Philadelphia came after he decided to stop treatment.
   36. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:15 PM (#6001210)
He was 86. He could have been in really good health and just pass away suddenly at that age.

Yeah, it's pretty unlikely (but not impossible) he had COVID. As I noted in another thread, Aaron got the first dose of the COVID vaccine a few weeks ago. He posted about it online and there were articles written about it in an effort to reassure people, especially in the African American community, that it was safe. Hopefully that doesn't backfire at all now -- I'm sure it had nothing to do with his death.
   37. Tim M Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:22 PM (#6001213)
Oh man. Hank was special to me, my first big league game ever was at Fenway, age 6 in 1976, they played against Hank in his final season, my dad kept telling me 'watch this guy, he is one of the all-time greats', but it was hot and I was cranky and we were way out in the bleachers so you couldn't see anything anyway, and I didn't even care to watch .. Later on when I became a real fan (age 8+) I loved Hank and loved the memory, still do.
   38. Brian C Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:33 PM (#6001216)
Also had a funny guest spot in Futurama of all shows, among some other TV appearances.
   39. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:42 PM (#6001220)
Cepeda

Right. Cepeda hit the ground running when he came up in 1958, the Giants' first year in San Francisco. For the first year or two he was more popular in San Francisco than Mays, who carried a slight taint of being a New York import.
   40. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:46 PM (#6001221)
Further testament to Aaron’s longevity: his top 3 HR seasons were in 3 different decades. His best single-season total, 47, only puts him in a 24-man tie for 80th on the single-season HR leaderboard, but he held the career record for decades, and still ranks 2nd all-time. A remarkable player by any measure. R.I.P.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:53 PM (#6001222)
FWIW, as newer sports, basketball and football simply have fewer elderly greats.

Their names may not be as recognizable to most fans today as the all-time baseball greats, but here are a few superstar NFL HoFers who are still with us.

Charley Trippi (99)
Hugh McElhenny (92)
Joe Schmidt (89)
Ray Berry (87)
Lenny Moore (87)
Sonny Jurgensen (86)
Sam Huff (86) (Though he's been in an advanced state of dementia for several years)
Don Maynard (85)
   42. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6001223)
This is a real bummer. I am too young to have seen him play, but I love watching highlights of his, and everything I've heard and read indicate that he was a great man. I'll have to read his book at some point. Go with God, Henry.
   43. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:08 PM (#6001226)
The deaths of our childhood heroes means only one thing - we're getting old.


I hate you now. I mean you're 100% right, but I still hate you.
   44. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:10 PM (#6001227)
as a cub reporter in 1984, I was assigned to try to get a comment from...... Hank Aaron.

don't remember the topic, but I learned a huge lesson.

after maybe my 3rd message being left with his secretary, she told me, "So Henry has yet to respond to you, such a nice young man? Let me see if I can get him on the phone right now!"

and she did - and he was wonderful.

show some respect to elevator operators, security guards, secretaries, parking lot attendants, etc.

I mean, we all should. but it's amazing what they see, what they know, what they can tell you, how they can help you.

I also heard the news of Hank hitting HR No. 714 just minutes before I broke my finger - on a bad hop from a liner hit to me during batting practice.

RIP, Hank. I'll just reiterate being a tween and having my world rocked over his description of the awful hate mail he got as he chased down a white man's home run record. he said he would save those letters forever - in hopes that he'd live long enough that someday, people otherwise wouldn't believe what the cultural climate was like back then.
   45. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:12 PM (#6001228)
I have a long-running historical league in OOTP. It started in 1901, and I just finished the 1999 season. When preparing for each new season, I look at every new player's baseball reference page. I have looked at every player's page for a century, and only once did I stop and just stare in awe. Hank Aaron was an MVP candidate for 18 consecutive years. If, like me, you are too young to have seen him play, I encourage you to go to his page and look. I know it's only statistics, and not a reflection of the player and man he was, but do it. Had I been born 20 years earlier, I'm pretty sure Hank Aaron would be my favorite baseball player ever.

Hank Aaron
   46. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:15 PM (#6001229)
The oldest Hall of Famers still with us, these (I believe are all those who are in as players who were born pre-Baby Boomers). There are nine Hall of Famers still with us who are 80+.

Mays 1931
Aparicio 1934
Koufax 1935
Mazeroski 1936
Brooks Robinson 1937
Marichal 1937
Billy Williams 1938
Perry 1938
Yaz 1939
Perez 1942
Jenkins 1942
Carlton 1944
Palmer 1945
Carew 1945

   47. Moeball Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:27 PM (#6001231)
Met Hank by accident in 1967 after the AS Game at Anaheim Stadium. We were in our car leaving the parking lot after that 15-inning marathon. Hank walked by our car and my brothers and I rolled down the windows and yelled "Hey, it's Hank Aaron!" He was gracious enough to smile and wave at us and say hello. Didn't even think to ask for his autograph, I was just stunned he even said hello and acknowledged our existence.
   48. pikepredator Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6001232)
My favorite Hank Aaron stat is his total bases. I know it's a bit of a blunt tool but I have always loved it as a measure of sustained production over a long time. Hammerin' Hank stands alone, and it's not even close:

1. Hank Aaron, 6,856

Gap to second (Musial) is 722. Over 10% more TB than any other player who ever played baseball. Ever.

If you go down another 722, you get to Eddie Murray, 11th.
   49. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6001233)
He received MMP votes in 16 different seasons but never won the MMP award. Only a handful of players can top that: Bonds (18), Ruth (17), Speaker (17).
(we're still voting on 1934-1939)

2nd to Banks in 1959. 2nd to Koufax in 1963. 3rd behind Mays and Mathews in 1960. 3rd behind Mantle and Norm Cash in 1961 (top NL player). 3rd behind Mays and Frank Robinson in 1962. 4th in 57, 58 and 67. In his MVP 1957 season we placed him behind Mantle, Ted Williams and Mays.
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6001235)
Met Hank by accident in 1967 after the AS Game at Anaheim Stadium. We were in our car leaving the parking lot after that 15-inning marathon. Hank walked by our car and my brothers and I rolled down the windows and yelled "Hey, it's Hank Aaron!" He was gracious enough to smile and wave at us and say hello. Didn't even think to ask for his autograph, I was just stunned he even said hello and acknowledged our existence.



I missed my chance to get his autograph. After the induction ceremony in 1982, my father and I drove over to the Otesaga Hotel where all the players stay. He was outside behind some ropes taking photos (he got an amazing shot of Joe Dimaggio standing by himself), and I snuck into the lobby to try to get some autographs. There were a bunch of other kids in there. I looked up and saw Hank walk through the front door. Rather than quietly sneak up to him, I announced, "It's Hank" or something similar. Of course, all the kids then converged on Hank, and I opted against fighting the crowd.
   51. Ron J Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:50 PM (#6001238)
#42 He'd occasionally go into grumpy guy mode. But man if anybody earned it. ...

Didn't really stick.
   52. Rally Posted: January 22, 2021 at 01:54 PM (#6001239)
Hank Aaron was an MVP candidate for 18 consecutive years.


So much amazing in Hank's record, but I did not realize that. And you actually undersold him, he received MVP votes for 19 consecutive years, every year from age 21 to 39. His worst finish in the MVP voting in that stretch was 17th in 1970. That year he hit .298 with 38 homers, 118 RBI, was 9 for 9 on the bases, and was average on defense. His OBP was .385.

Not saying he should have been MVP in 1970, Johnny Bench was certainly deserving. But years similar to that have won the MVP award before, like Vlad Guerrero in 2004 (39 HR, 126 RBI, .391 OBP, 15 for 18 on the bases).
   53. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:05 PM (#6001241)
per Post 48

#crossthread

17. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 24, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#2109160)
The Hammer holds two records more important then "755".

One - most lifetime RBI
Two - most lifetime total bases

Fun fact: his lead over second place in the latter category is 12 miles. Yes, miles.


18. DavidFoss Posted: July 24, 2006 at 04:00 AM (#2109175)
Fun fact: his lead over second place in the latter category is 12 miles. Yes, miles.

Excellent! :-) You just made my day.

12.3 miles or 64980 ft or 722 bases.
   54. Astroenteritis Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:06 PM (#6001242)
I remember when Aaron was chasing Ruth in 1973, my friend and I got tickets for a late September Braves-Astros game in the Astrodome, hoping to see history in the making. Aaron wasn't starting every game, as I'm sure the Braves wanted him to break the record in Atlanta, but he was sitting on 711 homers as the game began. Aaron got the start on this night, and though we knew he probably wouldn't hit three homers in the game, it was exciting to be eyewitness to the chase. Sure enough, he came up with two on in the sixth or seventh inning, the Braves down a run, and clubbed a homer to left or left-center, my memory isn't that good (I was in high school at the time). As he circled the bases on his 712th homer, the crowd in Houston gave him a standing ovation. Great memory.

I also remember when I was in Cooperstown to see the Biggio induction, that Aaron got by far the biggest ovation when Hall-of-Famers were introduced at a ceremony in the stadium.

I am sad he has passed; he was truly an all-time great.
   55. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:14 PM (#6001243)
The oldest Hall of Famers still with us, these (I believe are all those who are in as players who were born pre-Baby Boomers). There are nine Hall of Famers still with us who are 80+.

I noted in another thread that as of last month, Koufax (inducted 1972) now has the record for most time as a living HOFer. He’s not the oldest, but he had an unusual combination of retiring so young and being a first ballot selection. Bob Feller (inducted 1962, passed away 2010) had been the previous record holder.
   56. frannyzoo Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:16 PM (#6001244)
   57. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6001246)
post 54, it's this game

Sept 22, 1973

Astros lead, 2-1
Marty Perez and Darrell Evans single to lead off the 6th, Hank follows with a 3-run HR.

Braves win, 4-2

future managers Dusty Baker and Davey Johnson hit 5-6 in this game, behind cleanup batter Hammerin' Hank
   58. I Am Not a Number Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6001247)
Aaron played briefly as a teen for the Indianapolis Clowns. Just in case his biography isn't full enough.
   59. alilisd Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6001248)
Of course we never really know our sports heroes through print and television, but I never recall reading a bad word, or seeing Mr. Aaron act in any other way than with great dignity. I doubt I ever saw him play in person, but I definitely remember watching him chase down the Babe. The inner strength it took to even make it to a point where he was in a position to pass Ruth is extraordinary. To hold up under the pressure of death threats while playing at "home" in a southern city, and in a horribly racist country, is mind boggling! I love him for what he showed us about the strength of the human spirit, and for giving a giant middle finger, metaphorically of course, to the racist jackasses then, and now.
   60. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:40 PM (#6001250)
Charley Trippi (99)
Hugh McElhenny (92)
Joe Schmidt (89)
Ray Berry (87)
Lenny Moore (87)
Sonny Jurgensen (86)
Sam Huff (86) (Though he's been in an advanced state of dementia for several years)
Don Maynard (85

Jim Brown 84
   61. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:46 PM (#6001252)
re post 58

#crossthread

160. OCF Posted: July 28, 2006 at 04:19 PM (#2115523)

Aaron signed with the Mobile Bears in 1950 at the age of 16. At that point he batted cross-handed. The Indanapolis Clowns, on a barnstorming trip, played the Bears in 1951, and the Clowns started making Aaron offers, which he eventually accepted in the spring of 1952. (Aaron was also being recruited by college football teams.)

"The Clowns didn't live in Indianapolis," recalled Aaron, "they lived in that bus. I never did see Indianapolis."
   62. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 22, 2021 at 02:50 PM (#6001254)
What a player. He's been retired for 35 years, and is still top-5 in Runs, Hits, RBI, HR, and Total Bases. You can't even call him a compiler though, because of the extraordinarily long period of production discussed above.

The MiLB stadium in his hometown of Mobile is named after him.
   63. Rally Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:12 PM (#6001258)
So Koufax is third oldest now and was the youngest HOFer ever, at 36. That record may never be broken. A perfect storm - retire at 30 with enough credentials to make it, and go in first ballot.

I hope hw stays #3 in oldest HOF for a while because I could not handle losing Willie too.
   64. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:16 PM (#6001259)
Was he the last living Clown?

Ave atque vale.
   65. Perry Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:33 PM (#6001262)
He's been retired for 35 years, and is still top-5 in Runs, Hits, RBI, HR, and Total Bases.


And yet even that kind of understates his greatness. Here are some Aaron facts, most of which I pulled from Posnanski's Baseball 100 writeup a few months ago.

.305/.374/.555 with 37 HR and 113 RBI is a great season, an MVP-caliber season. That was Aaron's 162-game average for 23 years.

Earlier on the same night he broke Ruth's HR record, he passed Willie Mays as the all-time NL Runs leader.

He had a period where he stole a fair number of bases. In the 10 seasons from 1959-68, he was 7th in baseball in steals, ahead of Mays. For his career, his SB % was higher than Mays, Wills or Lou Brock.

If you take away his 755 homers, he still has 3,000+ hits.

He's #1 all time in RBI and in Runs+RBI.

His 6,856 total bases is 700 more than anyone else. Musial could have hit 350 more doubles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. Ruth could have hit 250 more home runs and not has as many total bases as Aaron. (Bonds would have needed 220 more homers just to tie Aaron.) Pete Rose could have cracked another 1,100 singles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. And that's all playing his prime in a pitchers' era.
   66. WallBall Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6001263)
Henry Aaron became my hero when I first studied the back of his baseball card. It was 1967 and I was 8 years old. His numbers were so incredible, yet I had never heard of him. I've been a Braves fan ever since and I live nowhere near Atlanta. He used to carry his helmet and put in on outside of the batting circle, stepping up to the plate like he was sitting down in an easy chair. On the field, few have ever been better. Off the field, as much of a cliche as this is, he was even greater.
   67. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:42 PM (#6001267)
BBRef WAR is not the be-all, end-all of value. Yet I was stunned: by that metric, Aaron's MVP season was his eighth-best season.

What a man.
   68. Tony S Posted: January 22, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6001268)

RIP Hank. You did it all.
   69. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 04:00 PM (#6001270)
Aaron hit .362/.431.647 with 7 HR (14 BB 12 K) in 130 PA against SANDY FRIGGIN KOUFAX!

Other HOFers:
Steve Calrton .342/.395/.630 in 81 PA
Nolan Ryan .324/.390/.486 in 41 PA
Don Drsysdale .267/.345/.579 in 249 PA
Robin Roerts .291/.335/.554 in 158 PA
Juan Marichal .288/.348/.473 in 161 PA

Bob Gibson and Don Sutton, who also recently passed, are the only HOFers who really seemed to have Hank's number.
   70. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 04:02 PM (#6001271)
The Indianapolis Clowns barnstormed until 1963. Harold King is still with us.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kingha01.shtml
   71. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 22, 2021 at 04:20 PM (#6001272)
For those older than me (I just turned 47, and was two months old when Aaron hit #715), what was the point where people generally started saying, "Holy crap, this guy might actually pass Ruth!". And was there a point where Mays and Aaron were both playing at an obviously elite level, but that people thought Mays was the one who would pass Ruth?

For example, after the 1966 season, Aaron had completed his age 33 season, Mays his age 36 season.

Aaron was at 481 HRs, Mays was at 542. At that moment, it would have seemed unlikely that either of them could get to 715 home runs, right?

From that point on, Mays was still a very valuable player for another four years, but he was diminished, and the home runs declined, as well.

But my education on Aaron's remarkable career included the narrative that he was an all-time player who benefited from the move to Atlanta, in the form of increased HR totals. Then, once he hit the 40 HRs in 1971, people were like, "Woah, he could catch Ruth!", but that was a relatively late realization in his career. Is this accurate?
   72. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 22, 2021 at 04:52 PM (#6001274)
. . . what was the point where people generally started saying, "Holy crap, this guy might actually pass Ruth!".
There was certainly some speculation earlier, but the 1971 season, when Aaron hit a career high 47 HRs at age-37, bringing him to 639 total, was a rather emphatic statement that Aaron might defy normal aging patterns long enough to pass Ruth. Back then, that alone didn’t trigger suspicion of performance enhancing shenanigans.
   73. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2021 at 04:58 PM (#6001275)
Oh no
   74. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:04 PM (#6001277)
Further testament to Aaron’s longevity: his top 3 HR seasons were in 3 different decades. His best single-season total, 47, only puts him in a 24-man tie for 80th on the single-season HR leaderboard, but he held the career record for decades, and still ranks 2nd all-time.


I've seen some statements that if you add in Negro League HRs, Aaron might actually have more than Bonds. Any opinions on that?
   75. Rob_Wood Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:10 PM (#6001279)
Regarding the prospects of surpassing Ruth's 714, I remember when Willie Mays hit 500 late in the 1965 season. I am virtually positive that articles were written around that time (and in the off-season) saying that Mays had a decent chance of 714. Unfortunately he slowed down and IIRC didn't get 600 till late in the 1969 season. Talk of catching Ruth was brought up again and Willie said he had no chance at that point.

When Aaron passed Mays and was still going strong, there was definitely talk of Aaron catching Ruth.
   76. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:12 PM (#6001280)
Aaron hit .362/.431.647 with 7 HR (14 BB 12 K) in 130 PA against SANDY FRIGGIN KOUFAX!


He did have the platoon advantage against Koufax. Aaron might be the best RH batter who ever lived.
   77. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:15 PM (#6001281)
the 1971 season, when Aaron hit a career high 47 HRs at age-37


Looking over I Had a Hammer today and Aaron said Jackie Robinson's death in 1972 gave him the determination to make the final push.
   78. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6001283)
His 6,856 total bases is 700 more than anyone else. Musial could have hit 350 more doubles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. Ruth could have hit 250 more home runs and not has as many total bases as Aaron. (Bonds would have needed 220 more homers just to tie Aaron.) Pete Rose could have cracked another 1,100 singles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. And that's all playing his prime in a pitchers' era.

To put it slightly differently, if you turned 240 of Aaron's home runs into singles (which would put him at 515 HR, 22nd all-time), he would still be the all-time leader in total bases.
   79. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6001284)

I've seen some statements that if you add in Negro League HRs, Aaron might actually have more than Bonds. Any opinions on that?


I don't believe Aaron has any "official" at bats under the NGL period that's part of the major league record now, which is 1920-1948. He certainly had plenty in barnstorming, etc, but if you are adding barnstorming homeruns to the record Ruth may well take it again!
   80. Itchy Row Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:41 PM (#6001288)
Bob Gibson and Don Sutton, who also recently passed, are the only HOFers who really seemed to have Hank's number.
Tom Seaver (.205/.281/.423 in 89 PA) was pretty good against him too.

After those three, all who died in the last few months, the HOFer who he faced at least 20 times who had the most success against him might be Fergie Jenkins and Jenkins only held him to .271/.325/.443. I hope Fergie is doing well.
   81. alilisd Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:47 PM (#6001292)
Aaron might be the best RH batter who ever lived.


I thought this was interesting, and the stathead search I used was all seasons of 50 or more Rbat by a RH batter, which returned a nice, round 200 seasons. Aaron has 7 of them, Pujols and Hornsby 9, Mays, Foxx, Ed Delahanty, Thomas, and Trout all have 8. I think it's possible we may be watching the greatest RH batter ever right now. The inclusion of Ed Delahanty blew me away. I knew of him, but would not have expected him to pop up in this company!

As others have mentioned, the thing about Aaron is his sustained excellence, it's extraordinary! And it shows up here even though there are several players with more than his 7 seasons of at least 50 Rbat because if you look at his career, from age 21 to 39, 19 seasons and over 12,000 PA's, he averaged 45! The only one of those players with more 50 Rbat seasons who can come close to averaging 45 across 19 seasons is Mays with an average of 42 from age 23 to 41. Hornsby (career average 37), Foxx (career average 38), and Delahanty (career average 36) didn't even make it to 19 seasons. Thomas had a 19 year career and averaged 36, and Pujols also averaged 36 for his first 19 seasons. Trout with 0 at age 19 and just 19 in Covid shortened 2020 is averaging 49, but despite my comment above has a LONG way to go to match Aaron's longevity of excellence!
   82. Mefisto Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6001293)
Aaron might be the best RH batter who ever lived.


Going by OPS+, and leaving out Trout because his career is far from over, Hornsby and Mays both had higher OPS+ in similar career lengths. If you include shorter careers, Foxx, McGwire, Greenberg, and Allen all were higher than Aaron and Mays both.
   83. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6001294)
Delahanty (career average 36) didn't even make it to 19 seasons.


He had a pretty good excuse.
   84. alilisd Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:50 PM (#6001295)
Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6001283)
His 6,856 total bases is 700 more than anyone else. Musial could have hit 350 more doubles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. Ruth could have hit 250 more home runs and not has as many total bases as Aaron. (Bonds would have needed 220 more homers just to tie Aaron.) Pete Rose could have cracked another 1,100 singles and not had as many total bases as Aaron. And that's all playing his prime in a pitchers' era.

To put it slightly differently, if you turned 240 of Aaron's home runs into singles (which would put him at 515 HR, 22nd all-time), he would still be the all-time leader in total bases.


These are all so great, but I love Eric's illustration of turning 240 HR into singles still leaving him as a 500 HR guy AND the leader in TB!
   85. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:50 PM (#6001296)

I don't believe Aaron has any "official" at bats under the NGL period that's part of the major league record now, which is 1920-1948.


What if you included his years, 'official' or not?
   86. alilisd Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:51 PM (#6001297)
 SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6001294)
Delahanty (career average 36) didn't even make it to 19 seasons.


He had a pretty good excuse.


Understood
   87. alilisd Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:57 PM (#6001298)
Mefisto Posted: January 22, 2021 at 05:49 PM (#6001293)
Aaron might be the best RH batter who ever lived.


Going by OPS+, and leaving out Trout because his career is far from over, Hornsby and Mays both had higher OPS+ in similar career lengths


Not sure what you mean by this? Hornsby had nowhere near the career length of either Aaron or Mays. But he is undoubtedly the best RH by OPS+, for a full career to leave out Trout.
   88. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6001300)
1. Hank Aaron, 6,856

Gap to second (Musial) is 722. Over 10% more TB than any other player who ever played baseball. Ever.

If you go down another 722, you get to Eddie Murray, 11th.


If Albert Pujols repeats his 2019, he will tie Musial in TB. (If I did the math in my head right)
   89. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:08 PM (#6001301)
a pedant about "career length" could argue for Hornsby, as he played in 23 MLB seasons

but 1932-37, he had only 305 total PA - so a half-season's worth in "six seasons"

he also had only 61 PA in his debut at age 18, and only 120 in 1930

so 486 in "eight seasons"
   90. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:11 PM (#6001302)
Delahanty (career average 36) didn't even make it to 19 seasons.

He had a pretty good excuse.


too soon?

ok, I guess not
   91. DL from MN Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:12 PM (#6001303)
Hornsby's best 8 seasons are better offensively than Aaron's best 8 seasons. Total career value I have Aaron as about 5% better. That's using standard deviation adjusted batting wins above average. It's a "prime" versus "career" argument with a quality of competition subtext.
   92. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:14 PM (#6001304)

I don't believe Aaron has any "official" at bats under the NGL period that's part of the major league record now, which is 1920-1948. He certainly had plenty in barnstorming, etc, but if you are adding barnstorming homeruns to the record Ruth may well take it again!


Aaron didn't join the Negro Leagues until 1952, and those years don't count. I read he he hit five HR for the Clowns in the three months he was with the team. He was 18 that year!
   93. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:28 PM (#6001306)
Joe Posnanski, on Aaron: (The Athletic, paywalled)


Mostly, though, the dazzler covers up just how complete a hitter Henry Aaron was. If you took away his 755 home runs — just took them away — he would still have had 3,000 hits. Not only does he have the record for most RBIs with 2,297, but he also has the most combined runs and RBIs....

And then there’s his absurd, almost laughable, breakaway lead in career total bases. If you want to call Henry Aaron the king of something, call him the King of Total Bases. He had 6,856 total bases in his career — 700 more than anyone else.

Musial could have hit 350 more doubles and not had as many total bases as Aaron.

Ruth could have hit 250 more home runs and not has as many total bases as Aaron. (Bonds would have needed 220 more homers just to tie Aaron.)

Pete Rose could have cracked another 1,100 singles and not had as many total bases as Aaron.
   94. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:45 PM (#6001308)
My favorite Aaron story is when upon leaving County Stadium after a game, noticed two lonely kids in the parking lot and they said they had no ride home. Aaron drove the boys home. I want to say I heard Johnny Logan tell that story.
   95. Howie Menckel Posted: January 22, 2021 at 06:53 PM (#6001310)
93, 65 would like a word with you in the back alley - bring a Coke, or some sort of beverage!

although you did bring a link to a gunfight, albeit paywalled
   96. DanG Posted: January 22, 2021 at 07:05 PM (#6001311)
My favorite Hank Aaron stat is his total bases. I know it's a bit of a blunt tool but I have always loved it as a measure of sustained production over a long time. Hammerin' Hank stands alone, and it's not even close:

1. Hank Aaron, 6,856

Gap to second (Musial) is 722.
To be fair, both Musial and Mays would likely be within 400 TB of Hank if they had not missed time to military service.
   97. DanG Posted: January 22, 2021 at 07:12 PM (#6001312)
There are nine Hall of Famers still with us who are 80+.

Mays 1931
Aparicio 1934
Koufax 1935
Mazeroski 1936
Brooks Robinson 1937
Marichal 1937
Billy Williams 1938
Perry 1938
Yaz 1939
Perez 1942
Jenkins 1942
Carlton 1944
Palmer 1945
Carew 1945
Living non-hall-of-famers with 60+ WAR born 1945 or earlier: Luis Tiant, Reggie Smith, Tommy John and Sal Bando.
   98. Mefisto Posted: January 22, 2021 at 07:47 PM (#6001316)
Hornsby had nowhere near the career length of either Aaron or Mays.


I went by years played to make sure I got the decline phase, but probably should have used PAs.
   99. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: January 22, 2021 at 08:23 PM (#6001318)
What if you took Aaron's HRs and just turned them into outs?

Assuming I did the math right, his career line becomes: 243/316/310

In 1964 (right in the middle of his career), the National League hit 254/311/374. Even without the HRs he beats league average in OBP. Slugging a bit low.

He had a career Rfield of 98. An average of 4.26 per year. Rpos of an average about -6.

By far, what Aaron is best known for is the home runs. But even without them - indeed, even if they were all caught by outfielders leaping over the fence - he'd have been a competent major league player. Probably a fourth outfielder, but that's pretty incredible.
   100. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2021 at 08:37 PM (#6001319)
Ipflay
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