Arts and Culture

Baseball legend Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron stood among the greatest of the greats during his 20-year-long career. Aaron died in January 2021 at 86 years old.

The Louisville Slugger Museum unveiled a new sculpture of him Thursday. It now stands alongside statues of some of baseball’s most well-known players.

Billye Aaron, his wife, said it was a day her family will long remember.

“I’m very pleased with this effort that the Slugger Museum has made to preserve and protect Hank’s legacy,” she said. “We all in the Aaron family will long remember this moment, and the day that you memorialized Henry Aaron.”

Hank Aaron played for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1954 to 1974. Even now, he holds records for most career RBIs, extra base hits and total bases in Major League Baseball history.

He broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 when he scored his 715th career home run. He held the record for more than 30 years until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007.

Aaron, a Black man, often spoke out against racism after facing death threats and hate mail throughout his career. His decades of work outside baseball earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 2005.

Billye Aaron shared tearful excerpts from “Romeo and Juliet” at the event and said she often told her husband that she was his Juliet.

“‘Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun,’” Billye Aaron said, quoting William Shakespeare.

On occasion, she said she still looks to the sky “to find that little star that is Hank.”

“The face, the love, the inspiration, everything he brought to our wedding, to our marriage for over 47 years, the goodness that he showed, the humbleness, his patience with me at times, his love for baseball and for the community as a whole — all just warmed my soul.”