As baseball legend Hank Aaron celebrates his 86th birthday Wednesday, the sports community is honoring him for being both an iconic athlete and pioneer for African Americans in the league.
Before earning his claim to fame as the “Home Run King,” Aaron played for the Negro American League’s Indianapolis Clowns in 1951 for $200 a month, according to MLB.
He made his major league debut at only 20 years old with the Milwaukee Braves, though his pay was docked to $50 a game, and eventually claimed the Northern League’s Rookie of the Year Award.
In his second season with the Milwaukee Braves — which later became the Atlanta Braves — Aaron hit 27 home runs, a number which only increased throughout his career.
According to NBC-affiliate WXIA, Aaron hit 700 of his record-breaking 755 home runs from 1955 to 1973 and surpassed Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs in April 1974.
Aaron has earned nearly every title in the book — he was the National League MVP in 1957, one-time world champion, two-time National League batting champion, three-time Golden Glove winner, four-time RBI champion and four-time home run champion.
Not to mention he represented the Braves at the All-Star games 25 times, a record that remains untouched.
A very happy birthday to Hall of Famer and baseball legend Hank Aaron! Did you know that if you take away all of Hank’s 755 home runs, he still has more than 3,000 career hits? https://t.co/URWqV1GX2A pic.twitter.com/NdGpYFfSxe— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) February 5, 2020
Aaron retired in 1976 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame six years later.
On Wednesday, the organization celebrated the athlete with a sweet tribute on Twitter.
“A very happy birthday to Hall of Famer and baseball legend Hank Aaron!” the caption read along with a video of Aaron scoring a run. “Did you know that if you take away all of Hank’s 755 home runs, he still has more than 3,000 career hits?”
The Atlanta Braves also honored their former player Wednesday.
“Braves Country: Join us in wishing a very Happy Birthday to the home run king @HenryLouisAaron!”
As Aaron’s birthday falls during Black History Month, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association celebrated Aaron’s accomplishments in the Negro American League.
“He began his incredible career in the Negro American League, and after 23 years in #MLB, he earned his spot in the @baseballhall,” the tweet read. “It’s only fitting that the 25-time All-Star’s birthday occurs during our celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth. Happy birthday, @HenryLouisAaron.”