1934 - 2021
We have lost many of the all-time baseball greats over the past twelve months, but this one hurts worst of all. The greatest ballplayer who ever lived died yesterday. He was 86 years old.
If I could pick anyone in the history of baseball to have been a member of the Phillies, it would have been Mr. Aaron. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that he is the greatest who ever played the game. In fact, I don't think a legitimate argument can be made that anyone else is even close.
His 755 career home runs that moved him past Babe Ruth for #1 on the career home run list has gotten most of the media attention over the years, but it tells only a fraction of the story. Mr. Aaron retired as a career .305 hitter. He has more career hits than any right-handed batter in the history of baseball, and his career 3,771 hits are behind only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose for the most hits of all-time. He has the most career extra base hits (1,467), the most career RBI (2,297), most career total bases (6,856), most seasons with 100 or more runs scored (15), most consecutive seasons with 150 or more hits (17), and the most seasons as a member of the All-Star team (21). Because he played during an era in which there were two All-Star Games played per season (from 1959 to 1962), he is a 25 time All-Star. Only Willie Mays and Stan Musial managed to crack twenty (24 each).
When we visited the Hall of Fame in 2013, the part of the museum that fascinated me the most was the Chasing The Dream wing dedicated to Mr. Aaron.
The fact that Mr. Aaron was able to persevere and have the most remarkable career anyone has ever seen in baseball the face of vile hatred and bigotry is nothing short of heroic. He retired as an active player after the 1976 season. He went on to work as an executive in the Atlanta Braves organization, and he remained an ambassador of the game for the rest of his life.
The world will never forget the life, the career and the legacy of Mr. Henry Aaron - the greatest ballplayer who ever lived. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for everything that you are to the game of baseball, to America, and to humanity.