TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO ST. PETERSBERG, FLORIDA MARCH 13, 1954. 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 the all-time RBI leader (2,297). He was voted to 25 all-star games (they used to play two each season). Aaron would have eventually found his way into the Braves lineup, but he got a little push on this date because of Bobby Thomson’s tough break.
Wisconsin State Journal, March 14, 1954, by Henry McCormick,
1954 NL pennant race
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY TAKES US BACK TO MOBILE, ALABAMA IN 1934. That was the day Henry Aaron was born. He would 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)
Most career at-bats 12,364 (2nd)
Most seasons at least 100 RBI 11 (4th)
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 Aaron, the all-time home-run king was born on this date in 1934. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
MLB batting leaderboards, Baseball-Reference
More on Hank Aaron
1975 | MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – Baseball generations were bridged in dramatic fashion at Milwaukee County Stadium on this date in 1975. The Brewers were hosting the Kansas City Royals. Hank Aaron, in a Brewer uniform, was in his 22 major league baseball season, as was Harmon Killebrew, in a Royals uniform.
Also in Royals blue was pitcher Lindy McDaniel, in his 21st season. Playing shortstop for the Brewers was a tall slender, curly haired 19-year old named Robin Yount. Aaron, Killebrew and McDaniel all started playing major league baseball before Yount was born.
Aaron and Killebrew were at the ends of Hall of Fame careers. Yount was at the beginning of one. He would end up in Cooperstown twenty-four years later.
Yount would be American League MVP as a shortstop in 1982, the year the Brewers went to the World Series. He would be MVP a second time in 1989, as a centerfielder. One of only three players in baseball history to win the MVP at two positions. The others were Stan Musial and Hank Greenberg.
The ever modest Yount was probably in awe being on the same field with those legends back in 1975, but he went on to prove he belonged.
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, by Leonard Koppett, 2004
1967 | PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – On this date in 1967, Henry Aaron hit a home run inside-the-park. It would be the only one of his 755 career home runs that he had to sprint around the bases.
It was the eighth inning when Aaron took Phillies’ ace Jim Bunning (later a United States Senator from Kentucky) deep to center field. Aaron sprinted around the bases, driving in pinch runner Miguel de la Hoz who had been on first, and scored ahead of the relay.
Aaron didn’t have only one inside-the-parker because he was slow; he stole 240 bases in his career. Another irony about Henry Aaron’s accomplishments is that he hit 3 home runs in one game only once. But Aaron’s list of records and accomplishments is set apart from mere mortal ballplayers:
- All-time career home run leader from 1974 to 2001 (755)
- All-time RBI leader: 2,297
- All-time extra-base hits leader: 1,477
- 21 All-Star appearances
- The Sporting News NL Player of the Year: 1956, 1963
- NL batting champion: 1956 (.328), 1959 (.355)
- NL MVP: 1957
- Gold Glove award: 1958, 1959, 1960
- Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame: 1982
Career home run leaders
The Associated Press (AP), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 11, 1967
1974 | ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Henry Aaron saved the best for the home town crowd. Four days after tying Babe Ruth‘s career home run record of 714 on the road in Cincinnati, Hammerin Hank broke the record before hysterical Atlanta Braves‘ fans at Fulton County Coliseum. He hit the 715th of his career off Los Angeles Dodger hurler Al Downing. Aaron would go on the hit 755 home runs for his career.
Henry Aaron ended his career back in the city where he made his major league debut. He played the 1975 and 1976 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The term “home run” was originally a descriptive one. In the early days of baseball, fences were generally farther out than they are today. The batter had to literally run home before being tagged out to hit a “home run.”
Babe Ruth held the career home run record for 53 years, the longest of any player. Here’s a list of the career home run record breakers and total home runs the new record-holder finished that year with.
Year Player HRs
2007 Barry Bonds 762
1974 Henry Aaron 733
1921 Babe Ruth 162
1895 Roger Connor 124
1889 Harry Stovey 89
1887 Dan Brouthers 74
1885 Harry Stovey 50
1883 Charley Jones 33
1882 Jim O’Rourke 24
1881 Charley Jones 23
1879 Lip Pike 20
Here are the current top-10 career home run hitters:
Barry Bonds 762
Henry Aaron 755
Babe Ruth 714
Alex Rodriguez 696
Willie Mays 660
Ken Griffey Jr, 630
Jim Thome 612
Sammy Sosa 609
Albert Pujols 591 (active)
Frank Robinson 586
The term “home run” was originally a descriptive one. In the early days of baseball, fences were generally farther out than they are today, so hitting a ball over the fence was rare. Inside-the-park home runs were more common because outfielders had more ground to cover. The batter had to literally run home before being tagged out to hit a “home run.”
Henry Aaron in the Hall of Fame
Career home run record holders