Today (January 22nd) the sports world is reeling from the loss of Baseball great Hank Aaron. Aaron’s historic career was set in stone when he hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, breaking the legendary mark set by Yankees legend Babe Ruth. Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully famously said in his call of 715, “A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep south” and in the 70s, that was considered a surprise. Aaron, then the starting right fielder for the Atlanta Braves was breaking a record held by an iconic figure who was white. Aaron also received death threats on the way to breaking the historic record.
Aaron’s talent and resolve started with his days in the Negro Leagues and Indianapolis. At the age of 18, Aaron began his baseball career with the Indianapolis Clowns, signing a contract for $200 a month. The Clowns formed in the 1930s in Florida and moving to Cincinnati before settling in Indianapolis in 1946. In 1952, they found the kid who would eventually be the Home Run King.
According to the Howe Sports Bureau, Aaron had a .366 batting average, five home runs, and 33 RBI during his 3-month tenure with the Clowns before Major League Baseball came calling. The Boston Braves signed Aaron to a $10,000 Contract and his iconic MLB career began.
Aaron would not only become the all-time Home Run leader, he holds MLB records for the most career runs batted in (RBI) (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856). Aaron is also in the top five for career hits (3,771) and runs (2,174). He entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
And to think, the career of the man known as Hammmerin’ Hank, who was born in Mobile, Alabama, started here in Indianapolis.