HANK'S bat is a Louisville Slugger
(model R43) with signature stamp, and one of the earliest Aaron
game-used bats in existence.
OF ONE OF HANK'S EARLIEST 'HAMMERS' EXHILARATING, NOSTALGIC
WHEN WE PULLED
this cracked Louisville Slugger out of the old refrigerator box
in which it had been stored for five decades and saw
the stamped signature, “Henry Aaron,” our hearts collectively
skipped a beat. Knowing that the Booming Bats of the
all brought over to our family tavern sometime between 1953 and
1955, we realized that we might just be holding a bat from his
rookie season of ’54 or possibly even a bat from the series
in which he hit his first Major League home run.
IN 1999 the book, Home
a vivid glimpse into the life of Hank Aaron one
of the most memorable figures
in American sports
research revealed (according to game-used
bat authenticator, dealer and author
of the definitive reference on the
subject, Dave Bushing) that there was
NO known Aaron game-used rookie bats
Much to our chagrin, our Dad’s chronicle of the Booming Bats
revealed that this bat had been brought over to the
Original Sports Bar by batboy Freddie
Buchholz along with a broken Eddie
Mathews bat during the last series between the Cardinals and
Braves in September of 1955.
Karen Devoto, Historian at
Hillerich and Bradsby (Louisville
Slugger) and a very gracious Kentucky “Southern Belle” who
has been extremely helpful to us in authenticating the bats, confirmed that Henry had signed
his original HB contract in 1952 for model D89. It was not
until July of 1955 that he ordered this R43 model. Nevertheless,
there is a very high probability that this game-used “Hammerin’
Hank” bat is, if not the earliest, certainly one of the earliest
Aaron bats in existence.
This bat was used in a three-game series that capped the 1955 season
for both the Cardinals and the Braves. He went hitless
in a first game 4-2 win, pounded a double and a single in a 4-3
loss in the second game and was one for three with a two-run double
in a losing effort in the third game. His two doubles in the
series tied his teammate and fellow “Boomer,”
Johnny Logan, with a National League leading 37 for the season.
The 1955 season was a break-out season for young Aaron. A
respectable rookie year was cut short due to a late season ankle
injury, but he came back very strong in 1955, posting his first
of 21 seasons as an all-star performer.
Always a fan favorite, Hank was voted “Brave of the Year”
by Milwaukee fans, and for the second year in a row, Aaron, Mathews,
Pafko and Company brought over two million fans out to County
Stadium breaking their own National League attendance
record set in 1954. Aaron led the team in hitting with a .314 average, was second
in the National League only to Ted
Kluszewski in hits with 189, and drove in 106 runs for the
second place Braves in 1955.
A YOUNG HENRY AARON watches Dr. Bruce
Brewer remove a cast from his leg in
November 1954 in Milwaukee. Aaron broke
his ankle late in the 1954 season,
his first with the Milwaukee Braves,
while sliding into third base.
ALL-STAR: 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: 1957
Aaron most prolific offensive player in Major League history
Led the Milwaukee Braves to pennant
and their only World Series
title in 1957
HENRY AARON has earned legendary status by clubbing a Major League record 755 round trippers over his 23-year career.
The most prolific home run hitter of all-time,
Henry Aaron withstood tremendous pressure
to break Babe Ruth's career record. Aaron is often overlooked when
baseball historians debate
the best player of the 1950s and 1960s.
He was, of course, a great hitter - winning two batting titles. But
Aaron was also a very good
base runner and had a good arm in the
outfield. During his 1957 MVP season, Aaron led the Milwaukee Braves
to the pennant and eventually
their only World Series title.
Aaron began his Major League career on April
13, 1954 with the Braves. He played for 23 seasons and ended his
big league playing career in 1976.
HENRY AARON developed his trademark strong, quick wrists from carrying ice as a teenager.
Aaron began his professional baseball career
as an 18-year old shortstop for the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro
American League. A right-handed hitter, he batted cross-handed,
with his right hand below his left hand. The Boston Braves bought
his contract and changed his grip. After two years in the minor
leagues, Aaron became the starting left fielder for the Braves in
1954, the team's second season in Milwaukee. He replaced the veteran
Bobby Thompson, who had broken his ankle.
"Hammerin' Hank" has earned legendary
status by clubbing a Major League record 755 round trippers over
his career, and is the most prolific offensive player in Major League
history, holding most career offensive records. He owns 12 Major
League career records, including most games, at-bats, total bases
Aaron was able to become the all-time home run
champ by sustaining a remarkably consistent career. He was never
hurt badly enough to be out of the lineup for an extended period
of time. He controlled his weight throughout his career, and his
remarkable physical condition (sans
performance-enhancing substances) allowed him to average 33
home runs a year, hitting between 24 and 45 home runs for an incredible
19 straight years.
Aaron drove in more than 100 runs 15 times including a record 13 seasons in a row. Aaron also won two batting titles in 1956 and 1959. He played the infield in the minors, but was switched to the outfield in winter ball before his rookie season, going on to gain recognition as an outstanding fielder winning four Gold Gloves. He earned National League MVP honors in 1957 and appeared in a record 24 all-star games.
Aaron was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 with 97 percent of the vote.
HENRY AARON: Did you know...
...Aaron and brother Tommie rank first in homers by siblings (768). They were also the first siblings to appear in a League Championship Series together as teammates (1969).
...Aaron combined with Eddie
Mathews to hit the most homers as teammates (863); he and Mathews
are the only players to hit 400 homers each as teammates (442 for
Hank, 421 for Eddie).
...Aaron and Eddie Mathews
homered in the same game 75 times. That total is two more than Babe
Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and
ranks as the all-time record.
...Aaron hit 385 in home parks, 370 on the road; hit 185 homers in Milwaukee County Stadium as a Brave, 10 as a Brewer; hit 190 homers in Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium.
...Aaron hit exactly 400 solo homers (53%); 242 two-run homers (32%);
97 three-run homers (13%); 16 grand slams; hit two homers in a game
61 times (3rd, behind Babe Ruth and Willie
Mays); hit three homers in a game once (6/21/1959); hit 14 extra-inning
homers; one inside-the-park home run (1967); three pinch-hit home
runs (1962, 1966, 1973); hit 534 homers off right-handed pitchers
(71%); 221 homers off left-handed pitchers (29%); victimized 310
pitchers in 32 ballparks; hit three homers in the World Series and
three more in the 1969 National League Championship Series; blasted
two all-star game home runs.
...Aaron's Hall of Fame teammates include Eddie
Mathews, Warren Spahn, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Phil
Niekro, Orlando Cepeda, Hoyt Wilhelm and Robin Yount.
...Aaron was a standout softball player in high school in Mobile
Alabama, and played briefly for the Mobile Black Bears, a local
Negro team, before moving on to the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro
...Aaron was a 150-pound all-city football guard in high school.
...Aaron wore No. 5 in 1954 as a rookie, but
switched to No. 44 in 1955. His teammates joked that the slender
Aaron wasn't big enough to wear a two-digit number.
...Aaron developed his trademark strong, quick wrists from carrying ice as a teenager.
...Aaron got his first hit in the majors on April 15, 1954
a single off Cardinals pitcher Vic Raschi and went 2-for-5
in a 7-6 win over St. Louis.
...Aaron hit his first major league homer on April 23, 1954 against
Raschi in St. Louis.
...Aaron broke his ankle on Sept. 5, 1954 while sliding into third base and missed the remainder of his rookie season. He finished the '54 season with 13 dingers.
...Aaron hit three homers in a game on July 21, 1959 against the San Francisco Giants - the only time Aaron hit three homers in a game.
...Aaron appeared on the television show "Home Run Derby"
and was paid $30,000 for his appearances almost as much as
his annual salary. The prize money encouraged Aaron to change his
approach to hitting and swing for more homers. Aaron defended his
decision by saying, "I noticed that they never had a show called
...Aaron hit what most consider to be the longest home run of his
career - a 470-foot shot to straightaway center at the Polo Grounds
in New York on June 18, 1962. Only two other players ever hit a
ball there - Joe Adcock in 1953 and Lou Brock, who coincidentally
did it the day before Aaron.
...Aaron was signed by the Boston Braves before the 1952 season as an amateur free agent.
...Aaron was traded in Nov. 1974 by the Atlanta Braves to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later and Dave May. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Roger Alexander (minors) (December 2, 1974) to the Atlanta Braves to complete the trade.
... Aaron was born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama.
POTENT BATS: Henry
Aaron, above left, Joe Adcock, center, and Eddie
Mathews, along with Frank
Thomas, became the first four players ever to hit successive
home runs in a game on June 8, 1961. They did it in the seventh
inning against Cincinnati.
AARON'S 1957 TOPPS CARD was accidentally
reversed so that it shows Hank hitting left-handed.
HANK WORE No. 5 during the 1954 season, but switched
to No. 44 in 1955.
CONSISTENT: Aaron hit 385 in home parks, 370 on the road; hit 185 homers in Milwaukee County Stadium as a Brave, 10 as a Brewer; hit 190 homers in Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium.
HENRY AARON's 1955 Tops
GOING, GOING, GONE:
Aaron broke Ruth's record of 714 career home runs on April 8, 1974.
It came off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth
inning with the Braves trailing 4-1 and two runners on base. Hammerin'
Hank's record blast, above, right, cleared the left-center field
fence at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and was caught in the bullpen
by Braves reliever Tom House.
AARON WAS INDUCTED into the Hall
of Fame in 1982 with 97 percent of the vote.