1954 | ST. PETERSBERG, FLORIDA – A nasty break for a veteran opened the door for a future superstar on this date in 1954. It was an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. Milwaukee Braves outfielder Bobby Thomson was trying to beat a throw to second base. The former New York Giant , who hit “the shot heard round the world,” in October of ’51, slid awkwardly and broke his ankle in three places.
Thomson would be out of the lineup until July. Put into the lineup was a skinny, 20-year old kid from Mobile, Alabama by the name of Henry Louis Aaron . He would be a regular in the Braves outfield for the next 21 years (He played 2 more years for the Milwaukee Brewers).
With Thomson’s injury many thought the Braves were out of the 1954 pennant race. Sportswriter Henry McCormick wrote, “With him [Thomson] may go the Braves’ hopes of staying in the thick of the pennant fight.” But the Braves stayed in the ‘54 race almost until the end. They were only four games out on September 15th, finishing 8 games out in third place, 89-65. Aaron played 122 games, hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI.
Hammerin Hank would become and remain the home run king (755) until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007. Aaron remains (as of this date) the all-time RBI leader (2,297). He was voted to 25 all-star games (they used to play two each season).
Wisconsin State Journal, March 14, 1954, by Henry McCormick,
1954 NL pennant race
FEBRUARY 5, 1934 | MOBILE, ALABAMA – A home run king that is. Henry Aaron was born on this date in 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. He would go on to become major league baseball’s all-time home run king in 1974 when he eclipsed Babe Ruth‘s record of 714.
Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs. Barry Bonds broke Aaron’s record in 2007, tainted, however, by allegations of steroid use.
Henry Aaron, not unlike his unassuming demeanor, quietly set many major league records and is among the leaders of many more. Here are some as compiled by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR):
Most seasons with at least 20 HRs 20(1st)
Most career RBI 2,297(1st)
Most career extra base hits 1,477(1st)
Most career total bases 6,856(1st)
Most seasons at least 100 runs scored 15(1st)
Most career home runs 755(2nd)
Most career hits 3,771 (3rd)
Most career runs 2,174(4th tied)
Most career at-bats 12,364(2nd)
Most seasons at least 100 RBI 11(4th tied)
Most career games 3,298 (3rd)
It’s also remarkable, considering he was the all-time HR king for almost 40 years, the lists Aaron is not on:
Most seasons with at least 60 HRs 0
Most seasons with at least 50 HRs 0
Henry Louis Aaron was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
MLB batting leaderboards, Baseball-Reference
More on Hank Aaron
JANUARY 27, 1956 & 66 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK & MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN • Today in baseball history provided hints of impending franchise moves. On January 27, 1956 the New York football Giants announced they would desert the Polo Grounds for Yankee Stadium for the upcoming season. This added to speculation that the baseball Giants wouldn’t be long for the Polo Grounds either.
The Associated Press reported that the baseball Giants were contemplating a “move across the Harlem River” to Yankee Stadium by 1957. The baseball team ended up moving in 1958, but across the country to San Francisco, where they remain to this day.
Ten years later on this date in 1966 the City of Milwaukee was trying to get the Braves back from Atlanta. The team hadn’t played any games in Georgia yet, but they’d already left Wisconsin. On January 27, 1966 Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Elmer Roller stopped just short of ordering the league to expand to Milwaukee or bring the Braves back. He instructed that Major League Baseball should do everything “within their scope” to get a team in Milwaukee.
As it turned out, the Braves stayed in Atlanta. The American League franchise Seattle Pilots left Puget Sound for Milwaukee in 1970 and changed their name to the Brewers. And the Polo Grounds in New York was demolished in 1964.
Chicago Tribune, Judge Orders NL: Stay in Milwaukee, January 28, 1966
United Press International, January 28, 1966
Associated Press, January 28, 1956
New York/San Francisco Giants history