Hank Aaron was a civil rights and baseball legend. Now that he has passed, the world is looking back on his legacy. And, part of that legacy includes his sense of humor.
Aaron made an appearance on the David Letterman show during the early 1980s. The interview begins with a clip of Aaron hitting his 715th career home run while playing for the Atlanta Braves in 1974. The dinger broke the Major League Baseball record previously set by Babe Ruth.
The comedian asks Hank Aaron if he had received a call from the White House and then-President Richard Nixon to acknowledge his history-making accomplishment.
“Believe it or not, I did,” Aaron told Letterman.
Hammerin’ Hank then goes on to recount the events that quickly took place after his 715th home run.
“After I hit the home run I went back to left field and I was standing in my position to catch a fly ball,” Aaron told Letterman. “And, Donald Davis, our traveling secretary, was running down the left-field line and he was telling me the president was on the telephone.”
Aaron then reacted with a question appropriate for someone in the middle of a Major League Baseball game.
“I said, ‘Well, fine Donald, but what do you want me to do? Stop the ball game?'” Aaron said. “I said, ‘Just put the president on hold and I’ll be right with him.'”
The story drew a laugh from Letterman, the audience, and no doubt countless baseball fans in the decade since it aired. Aaron did speak to President Nixon after that inning concluded.
“I went running up the steps and, of course, the president was on the telephone and he was inviting myself and my wife to be his guest at the White House,” Aaron recalled.
Ever the gentleman, Hark Aaron responded with gratitude and asked President Nixon when he should come to the White House.
“He said as soon as possible. Hell, I didn’t get there quick enough,” Aaron said referring to Nixon’s resignation later on in 1974.
Judging by Letterman’s reaction the baseball legend’s comedic timing was on point. You can watch Hank Aaron talk to David Letterman below:
Hank Aaron Passes Away
Hank Aaron passed away on Friday (Jan. 22) at the age of 86. He finished his Major League Baseball career with 755 home runs. He was the MLB record-holder for total career home runs until Barry Bonds hit his 756th dinger during the 2007 season.
While he is known for his home run record, Hank Aaron was an all-around baseball player. He still holds records for the most RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856), and extra-base hits (1,477) in the history of the MLB.
Also during his career, he batted .305 and had 3,771 career hits – good enough for third all-time. Ahead of him are the legendary Ty Cobb with 4,189 and Pete Rose with 4,256. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
You can read more about Hank Aaron here.