Hank Aaron

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Hank Aaron : biography

February 5, 1934 –

Statues of Aaron stand outside the front entrance of both Turner Field and Miller Park. There is also a statue of him as an eighteen-year-old shortstop outside Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he played his first season in the Braves’ minor league system.

In April 1997, a new baseball facility for the AA Mobile Bay Bears constructed in Aaron’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama was named Hank Aaron Stadium.

In 2006, a recreational trail in Milwaukee connecting Miller Park with Lake Michigan along the Menomonee River was dedicated as the "Hank Aaron State Trail". Hank Aaron was on hand for the dedication along with Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who at the ceremony described himself as a boyhood fan of Aaron’s.

Home run record eclipsed by Barry Bonds

During the 2006 season, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth and moved into second place on the all-time home run list, attracting growing media coverage as he drew closer to Aaron’s record. Playing off the intense interest in their perceived rivalry, Aaron and Bonds made a television commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLI, shortly before the start of the 2007 baseball season, in which Aaron jokingly tried to persuade Bonds to retire before breaking the record.

As Bonds began to close in on the record during the 2007 season, Aaron let it be known that, although he recognized Bonds’ achievements, he would not be present when Bonds broke the record. There was considerable speculation that this was a snubbing of Bonds based on the widespread belief that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs and steroids to aid his achievement. However, some observers looked back on Aaron’s personal history, pointing out that he had downplayed his own breaking of Babe Ruth’s all-time record and suggesting that Aaron was simply treating Bonds in a similar fashion. In a later interview with Atlanta sportscasting personality Chris Dimino, Aaron made it clear that his reluctance to attend any celebration of a new home run record was based upon his personal conviction that baseball is not about breaking records, but simply playing to the best of one’s potential.

After Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th home run on August 7, 2007, Aaron made a surprise appearance on the JumboTron video screen at AT&T Park in San Francisco to congratulate Bonds on his accomplishment:

Aaron dedicated the new exhibit "Hank Aaron-Chasing the Dream" at the Baseball Hall of Fame on April 25, 2009.