Hall of Fall baseball legend Hank Aaron passed away on Jan. 22 in Atlanta, Georgia. Chico State baseball coaches and players will not soon forget his trailblazing legacy.
“Hank Aaron was a tremendous role model for the Black youth throughout his storied career,” said Dave Taylor, Chico State’s head baseball coach.
Kristian Scott, a member of the Chico State baseball team and current senior, admires the sacrifices that Aaron and Jackie Robinson dealt with during their historic careers.
“Just like Jackie Robinson, they both went through a lot of stuff that I can’t even imagine that paved the way for players like myself to be able to play the game,” Scott said. “I actually do have him [Aaron] as my screensaver on my laptop, and he’s been my screensaver for the last five years.”
Hank Aaron smashed records, faced racism head-on and earned his way into the Hall of Fame. When Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record, he often received death threats.
“It just goes to show that these guys had to play with more than just your everyday struggles like lack of sleep or being sore,” Scott said. “They had to play with the fact that somebody may have done something to them just because of the fact that they are a good baseball player and they happen to be Black.”
Throughout his career, Aaron put up some impressive numbers, some of which may never be broken. He batted for 3,771 hits, making him third all-time. In 23 seasons, he became a 25-time All-Star (back when the All-Star game was played twice per season).
He also had 755 home runs, a record he held for 33 years until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007.
Willie Lajoie, a current senior and member of the Chico State baseball team, is grateful for Aaron’s legacy of breaking through the color barrier.
“Some of my best friends that I’ve made throughout the years in sports have been African-American,” Lajoie said. “It’s awesome.”
Alex Martin can be reached at [email protected] or @alexmartinjour on Twitter.