Hank Aaron, Baseball Hall of Famer, Dead at 86

Baseball legend Hank Aaron has reportedly died at 86 years old.

The former Braves slugger died on Friday, according to Atlanta station WSB-TV. Aaron's daughter shared news of his death.

Hank Aaron was best known as the right fielder for the Braves, and he played for the team when it was based in Milwaukee, and then later Atlanta before he ended his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. During his hall-of-fame career, he held numerous records. Most notably, he broke New York Yankees icon Babe Ruth's home run record. (Ruth also played for the Braves, when they were based in Boston.) Aaron had 755 career home runs, with his last hit coming in July 1976. He held the record for career home runs until 2007, when San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds surpassed his total.

Aaron was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama. He first tried out for the majors at 15 years old, when he went out for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He didn't make the team, but began his professional career two years later, in the minor leagues, playing for the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro league team.

The season before he passed Ruth's record, Aaron received death threats and racist hate mail, leading to FBI investigations, according to CNN. "Hammerin' Hank," as he was nicknamed, played in Georgia during a crucial time in the civil rights movement. In an interview with WSB-TV for his 80th birthday, he told the station about meeting Martin Luther King Jr. briefly at a ballgame and the impact that being close to the civil rights movement had on him. "I realized he was the voice of a lot of African Americans around. I realized that he did some things, said some things that you started thinking, you know, if things had been a little different we could have done this, and he was making it a reality. He was making all those things a reality," he said.

Throughout his 23-year career in the major leagues, Aaron was a regular at the All-Star game, being selected to play a record 25 times (from 1959 to 1962 there were two all-star games a year), and playing in 24 of them (tying the record with Stan Musial and Willie Mays). In 1982, his first year of eligibility, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1999, Aaron's legacy as a great hitter was cemented by the MLB with the inaugural Hank Aaron Award, which is given to players chosen as the top hitters in each league. Sammy Sosa, a Chicago Cub at the time, and Manny Ramirez, then playing for the Cleveland Indians, were the award's first recipients.

Hank Aaron Atlanta Braves
Hank Aaron is shown in this close up. He is shown as an Atlanta Braves outfielder during Spring Training. In 1982, his first year of eligibility, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bettmann/Getty