Aaron, the greatest home run hitter of all time, was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in January of 1982. He missed by nine votes being the first unanimous choice ever in the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Aaron received 406 of a possible 415 votes for a percentage of .978. Aaron and Frank Robinson were inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., on August 1, 1982. In February of 2000, Aaron replaced the late Pee Wee Reese on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.
In his 23-year Major League career, Aaron rewrote baseball's hitting record book. He holds more Major League batting records than any other player in the game's history. Among his records are some truly amazing ones, including Most Runs Batted In, Lifetime, 2,297; Most Extra-Base Hits, Lifetime, 1,477; Most Total Bases, Lifetime, 6,856; and, of course, Most Home Runs, Lifetime, 755. Aaron also ranks second on the all-time list in at-bats (12,364) and runs (2,174, tied with Babe Ruth), third in games (3,298) and hits (3,771), ninth in doubles (624), 11th in singles (2,294) and tied for 14th in years of service (23). His most famous home run came in Atlanta on April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th, breaking Babe Ruth's seemingly untouchable record. He did it before a sellout crowd of 53,775 at Atlanta Stadium. The pitch came in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers leading 3-1, with a 1-0 count and Darrell Evans waiting on first. Al Downing threw a fastball at 9:07 p.m. that Hank sent over the left field fence. Reliever Tom House caught the ball in the Braves' bullpen and brought it to Aaron in the home plate celebration.
On May 17, 1970, Hank singled at Cincinnati to become the first player to compile both 3,000 career hits and more than 500 homers. He joined the 30-30 club (30 HRs and 30 SBs in the same season) in 1963. Aaron played in the Major League All-Star Game 24 times, including the years 1959-61 when two games were played. He was honored as the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1957 and named Player of the Year by Sporting News in 1956 and 1963. He played 21 seasons with the Braves before being traded to Milwaukee for outfielder Dave May and minor leaguer Roger Alexander at the end of 1974. Aaron retired as a player two years later. Aaron was first scouted by Dewey Griggs of the Milwaukee Braves during an Indianapolis Clowns tryout. The Braves eventually were able to strike a deal and beat out the Giants for Aaron's services. In 1952 he was assigned to the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, team of the Northern League. He was the unanimous choice for the Northern League's Rookie of the Year while only playing in 87 games (.336, 9 HR, 61 RBI, 116 hits and 89 runs). In 1953 he was promoted to the Jacksonville Tars, where he became the first African-American player in the South Atlantic League. Aaron won the batting title (.362) and led the league in RBI (125), runs (115), hits (208) and finished second in home runs (22) and earned the league's MVP award.
He began his Major League career in 1954 when a spring training injury forced Bobby Thompson out of the Braves' lineup. In his debut he struck out twice, grounded out, hit into a double play and fouled out. Aaron hit his first home run off Vic Raschi on April 23, 1954. He became the second youngest player to win a batting title (.328) in 1956 and the second youngest to collect his 1,000th hit, off Sandy Koufax in 1959. On June 12, 1967, Aaron recorded his 2,500th hit and achieved his 3,000th hit on May 17, 1970. His 2,000th RBI came on July 3, 1972.
During his career, Aaron had a 20-year string of 20 or more home runs. After turning 35, he hit 245 home runs and from the ages 35 to 39 he hit at least 34 home runs a year. Over his 23-year Major League career, he averaged just 63 strikeouts a year, with his highest strikeout total being 97 in 1967. He hit .300 or better in 14 seasons, won the NL home run crown three times and tied for a fourth, led the league in RBI four times and won three Gold Gloves.
Aaron hit his 755 home runs off 310 different pitchers, including 12 Hall of Famers. He hit the most off of Hall of Famer Don Drysdale (17), the most in the month of July (152), the most against the Cincinnati Reds (97) and the most in the first inning (124). Aaron hit 400 solo home runs and hit seven of his 755 as a second baseman and had three pinch-hit home runs. He had only one three home run game, at San Francisco on June 21, 1959.