On August 15, 1955, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Braves pitcher Warren Spahn hit both a triple and a home run, contributing 3 RBIs to Milwaukee’s 12-1 victory over the Red Birds. Spahn also pitched a complete game, giving up only one walk with 8 hits and 4 strikeouts.
This documentary on Hank Aaron does a great job of depicting the level of racism Aaron faced not only as a ballplayer, but throughout his life. In spite of it all, he excelled on the field and made an incredible and lasting impact on the game.
I love this photo. If there wasn’t already a story behind it, this is the kind of photo that would serve as a terrific writing prompt.
This picture was taken September 22, 1965, at the conclusion of the Milwaukee Braves’ last game in Milwaukee County Stadium. It was the Braves’ last home game before their move to Atlanta the following year. The photo depicts third baseman Eddie Mathews on the left along with Hank Aaron as they headed up the tunnel to the dressing room for the last time.
On November 30, 1961, Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs was selected as the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The outfielder hit 25 home runs and drove in 86 runs that year, and was selected on 10 of the 16 ballots cast by the writers. The runner-up in the voting, Braves catcher Joe Torre, received five votes from the writers.
Here’s an interesting find from the Library of Congress. Dated May 2, 1963, Branch Rickey wrote up a scouting report of Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
May 2, 1963
Cincinnati vs Milwaukee
Surely one of the greatest hitters in baseball today. Can hit late with power, – good wrists. But in spite of his hitting record and admitted power ability, one cannot help think that Aaron is frequently a guess hitter. Will take three strikes down the middle and in fact frequently acts frozen on pitches. For years I have believed and I still believe that Aaron has more trouble with the breaking stuff. He stands close enough to the plate to pull the outside ball and does pull it. However, he is a foot length further from the plate than Frank Robinson of Cincinnati.
[Transcribed and reviewed by volunteers participating in the By The People project at crowd.loc.gov.]
It’s an interesting review of Aaron’s hitting, pretty much right in the middle of his MLB career. Looking at the box score, Aaron went 2-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBIs in this game, but also struck out twice.
While I am too young to have ever watched Aaron’s hitting, what limited knowledge I have makes me think Rickey might not have been alone in his perception of him as a “guess hitter.” At the same time, I would also wager that Aaron might have read pitches better than he sometimes let on.
If you’re interested, you can find the digital document on the Library of Congress website here.
This one truly breaks my heart. I have been a Hank Aaron fan for almost as long as I have been a baseball fan. I Had A Hammer is one of the first baseball biographies I ever picked up. When I attempted to play high school basketball one year (I was terrible at it), I was assigned jersey #44. And even though it was a different sport altogether, I still felt honored to wear the same number as the great Henry Aaron.
Henry Louis Aaron was born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama. He played a total of 23 seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1954 through 1976. Twenty-one of those seasons he played with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and two seasons were with the Milwaukee Brewers. His 755 career home runs broke the long-standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth and stood for 33 years. Aaron also hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973 and is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times.
Aaron’s chase after Babe Ruth’s career home run record stands as a notable period during his career, and not just because he ultimately did break the record. Aaron received thousands of letters every week during the summer of 1973; and during the 1973-1974 offseason, he received death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see him break Ruth’s home run mark. Fortunately, Aaron also received mounds of of public support in response to the bigotry. As his autobiography demonstrates, Aaron handled himself with a tremendous amount of dignity throughout this period of undeserved hardship.
Hank Aaron holds the record for the most All-Star selections, with twenty-five, while sharing the record for most All-Star Games played (24) with Willie Mays and Stan Musial. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner, and in 1957, he won the NL MVP Award when the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. Aaron also holds MLB records for the most career RBIs (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856).
After his retirement, Aaron held front office roles with the Atlanta Braves, including senior vice president. Hank Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility, with an astonishing 97.8% of the vote. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.
Henry Aaron died in his sleep on January 22, 2021. Rest in peace.
Phil Niekro pitched for 24 seasons in Major League Baseball, spending 20 of those seasons with the Braves, both in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Niekro’s 318 career victories are the most by a knuckleball pitcher and rank 16th on MLB’s all-time wins list. He won the NL Gold Glove Award five times, was selected for five All-Star teams, and led the league in victories twice and in ERA once.
Niekro also earned the Lou Gehrig Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, and the Brian Piccolo Award for his humanitarian service off the field. He also served on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors since 2009. Niekro was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
Phil Niekro died December 26, 2020 after a battle with cancer. He was 81 years old.
The 1957 Cy Young award was accorded on November 28th to Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves. Spahn was voted the league’s best pitcher almost unanimously, as the only competition for the award that year was White Sox hurler Dick Donovan, who received one vote. Spahn finished the 1957 season with a 21-11 record and a 2.69 ERA.
I don’t feel right unless I have a sport to play.