On July 14, 1968, Atlanta Brave’s slugger, Hank Aaron hit his 500th home run in a 4-2 home victory over the San Francisco Giants, making him the eighth major leaguer to reach the milestone.
Aaron’s historic three run shot to center field hit off of Mike McCormick in the bottom of the third inning. By his retirement in 1975, Aaron totaled 755 home runs and 2,297 RBIs, earning him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 1982.
One of Aaron’s achievements was taking the all time home run record from Babe Ruth while constantly being criticized for being a black man besting not only the Sultan of Swat but a white man. The Braves received thousands of letters a day for him.
Aaron’s position gave him the opportunity to speak about the subject of race, especially in baseball. He focused on the lack of opportunities black players had when they retired their bats and mitts while white players went on to become coaches and managers. Upon his retirement, he became the executive vice-president in the Brave’s front office.
Baseball greats come and go but there are the select few who get their names etched into history as a reflection of success. Major League Baseball named the award for the best overall hitter for Aaron in 1999, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his record breaking 715 home run. His recondition was proven to go far beyond the baseball diamond when he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.