By KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Baseball icon and Hall of Famer Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron passed away at 86 years old on Friday.
The retired right fielder from Mobile, Alabama, was known as one of the greatest power hitters in Major League Baseball history.
“Mr. Aaron passed away peacefully in his sleep. The family asks for privacy at this time. The Braves will be releasing a statement shortly,” Aaron’s assistant said in a statement to ABC News.
Aaron led the league with a record 755 home runs in his illustrious career when he eclipsed Babe Ruth’s total in 1974 at age 23. He held that record until 2007 when the number was surpassed by San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds.
He also holds records for most runs batted in (RBI), 2,297, total bases, 6,856, and extra-base hits, 1,477, according to ESPN.
“I don’t want them to forget Ruth, I just want them to remember me.” – Hank Aaron pic.twitter.com/Uon8dEwnJJ
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) January 22, 2021
Aaron’s legacy stretched far beyond fair territory on the field, he also led the way for other Black players in the sport.
Earlier this month, Aaron got vaccinated against COVID-19 in Georgia, in hopes that doing so would send a message to other Black Americans that the shots are safe, ESPN reported.
On May 17, 1970, Aaron became the ninth player in MLB history to add his name to the exclusive 3,000 hits club. The right fielder hit a single off a pitch from Cincinnati Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson at Crosley Field.
Aaron spent 21 seasons in the National League with Milwaukee from 1954 to 1965, then in Atlanta from 1966 to 1974, before finishing his 23-year career in Milwaukee with the Brewers until 1976. In total he had 24 All-Star Game appearances and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Aaron “was an All-Star a record 25 times and won three Gold Gloves, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, falling nine votes shy of becoming the first unanimous inductee,” according to a Braves press release.
After retiring from the batters box, “The Home Run King” became the senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves in 1976.
Tributes have already poured in on social media for the baseball legend from current and former players, as well as sports writers, friends and fans.
A legend on and off the ball field… the best to ever do it… RIP Mr Hank Aaron ?? #44 pic.twitter.com/3LH6iB9auV
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) January 22, 2021
Hank Aaron, the Hall of Fame slugger whose 755 career home runs long stood as baseball’s golden mark, has died.
He was 86. pic.twitter.com/etl7EcdUH8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2021
Hank Aaron’s legacy transcends his place as one of the greatest in the history of our national pastime. He represents the best of America, with his resiliency, grace, and relentless optimism. An extraordinary life. He is royalty. Always will be. RIP. @MLBNetwork @baseballhall
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 22, 2021
Rest in peace, Hank Aaron. pic.twitter.com/1UNJ5ZqceU
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) January 22, 2021
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