On Friday evening, former NFL quarterback turned civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick paid his respects to MLB legend Hank Aaron after he passed away.
Aaron and his family have received an outpouring of love and condolences on social media today. Following the news of the one-time Home Run King’s death, countless fans and celebrities shared thoughts and memories of the longtime Atlanta Braves player.
Kaepernick shared a touching message on his official Twitter account. He thanked “Hammerin’ Hank” for paving the way for black athletes on the field, and fighting for civil rights off of it. The former San Francisco 49ers QB added a picture of the two athletes meeting. Kaepernick said he was fortunate to be able to thank Aaron in person.
“Hank Aaron has always been a giant—a living legend—whose courage, resilience, & honor inspired millions. He fought for us with every swing of his bat,& paved the way for us to walk in. I was fortunate enough to be able to tell him “thank you” in person. Rest in Power Hammerin’ Hank,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter.
Hank Aaron Passes Away at the Age of 86
Aaron made as large of an impact on the field as he did off of it. As a player, he will be forever remembered as one of the greatest to ever grace a baseball field. His 755 career home runs broke Ruth’s record of 714 back in 1974. Yet, Aaron broke many more records during his playing career.
He currently holds the record for most RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856), and extra-base hits (1,477) in MLB history. Additionally, Aaron also has a career batting average of .305 and had 3,771 career hits. Those rank third behind Ty Cobb (4,189) and Pete Rose (4,256).
Hammerin’ Hank’s Legacy On and Off the Field
When Aaron hit his 715th home run at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1974, two fans famously ran onto the field to congratulate him as he rounded second and headed for third base. As important as Aaron is to baseball, his legacy reaches far beyond the confines of the diamond. Henry “Hank” Aaron led by example in the face of oppression. In addition, he took up the torch from the likes of Jackie Robinson and others that came before him.
During his 23-year professional career from 1954 to 1976, Aaron faced countless bouts of racism. Yet, the baseball legend persevered and continued to play the game he loved as a little boy growing up in Mobile, AL. His stoic demeanor in the face of unimaginable adversity over the years became a trademark of a special man with special character. His contributions to equality and civil rights will live alongside his numerous MLB records with equal merit.
Longtime L.A. Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully had this to say in the call of Aaron’s historic 715th home run.
“What a marvelous moment for baseball; a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron … And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”