Hank Aaron, legendary baseball slugger, dies at age 86

The Atlanta Braves’ right outfield player Hank Aaron (see close-up photo) has been named to the National League All Star team for the 16th consecutive year.

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Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who rose from poverty in separated Alabama to become one of the greatest players of all time, has died. He was 86 years old.

Aaron “died peacefully in his sleep,” the Atlanta Braves said in a statement Friday. There was no immediately available information about when Aaron died or what caused his death.

Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s 714 home run record set in 1935 and 1974 and remained home run king for 33 years when Barry Bonds topped his 755 mark. Aaron is still number 2 in Bonds’ 762.

Aaron ended his 23-year MLB career with a fighting average of 0.305, and his 2,297 RBI is still at the top. He has been on the All-Star Team 25 times and twice National League champion. He was also the League’s Most Valuable Player in 1957 during his World Championship season at the Milwaukee Braves, in which they defeated the New York Yankees.

“We are absolutely devastated when our beloved Hank died,” said Terry McGuirk, chairman of Braves, in a statement. “He has been a beacon for our organization, first as a player, then in player development and always in our community efforts. His incredible talent and determination have helped him achieve the highest levels of success, but he has never lost his humble nature . “

Born into poverty in Alabama in 1934, Aaron began his baseball career with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League in 1952 after leaving his hometown of Mobile with only $ 2 in hand.

“My mom told me that’s all she had to give me and be very careful with,” Aaron said in an interview with NBC News last summer.

Aaron quickly moved to Major League Baseball, where he played for the Milwaukee Braves in 1954.

He made his MLB debut seven years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, at a time when only 5% of the league’s players were black.

Even as Aaron chased Ruth’s record, which lasted nearly 40 years, Aaron continued to face racism.

“I couldn’t leave the stadium unaccompanied. I had to stay at another hotel instead of staying with my teammates,” Aaron said in an interview with NBC News. “It was the toughest moment of my life.”

At the age of 40, Hammerin ‘Hank Aaron broke the mark on April 8, 1974 while playing with the Atlanta Braves. That season he returned to Milwaukee to play two seasons for the Brewers.

“We’re heartbroken thinking of his wife, Billye, and their children, Gaile, Hank Jr., Lary, Dorinda, and Ceci, and his grandchildren,” said McGuirk.

– CNBC’s Marty Steinberg contributed to this report.

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