I am not a sports person. So, when I read the paper that Hank Aaron, the baseball player, had died and that he was from my state, Alabama, I had to look him up!
Hey there, the legendary famous African-American baseball player, Hank Aaron, died on Friday, January 22nd, 2021. Why am I talking about him? I’ll tell you.
(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)
In my opening, I mentioned that Hank Aaron was legendary. What does that mean? A legend is a story, a story that is important. And Hank Aaron, who was born in 1934, right here in Alabama where I live, Hank Aaron lived a life that had an impact and influence on many people. And I’ll tell you why.
Yes, Hank Aaron was from Alabama. I live in Huntsville in the North and he lived down south in Mobile, Alabama. And at the time that he was born and lived, there was segregation. Whites kept blacks separate. When he started playing baseball, he had to play on a Negro, a black team, in a black league. But, soon he joined a white team, the Milwaukee Braves, and he started to be noticed.
He was famous for hitting home runs. When a player in baseball comes up to bat to hit the ball, if he hits the ball really strong and if he hits it, so it goes out of the baseball park, it is easy for him to run the three bases and make a home run. He runs from the home plate to first base, to second base, to third base, and then back home all at once. That is called a home run. As he collected, or as he racked up, another way of saying ‘as he collected’, as he accumulated, as he hit home run after home run, people started talking about another famous baseball player, Babe Ruth.
Babe Ruth at the time held the record for the most number of home runs – 714. When was that home-run record achieved? In 1935. And so from 1935, until 1974, nobody hit more home runs than Babe Ruth. But on April 8th, 1974, Hank Aaron hit number 715 and he broke Babe Ruth’s record.
This was wonderful. A lot of people were very happy, but sadly, there were some hate-filled white people who were not nice at all. They sent Hank Aaron and his team, the Atlanta Braves, (the Braves had moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta), they sent his team hate mail. They threatened his life. They said they were going to kill him. This was awful. But Hank Aaron did not read most of the hate-filled letters. Instead, he was motivated by them to beat Babe Ruth’s record.
He left the Atlanta Braves and joined a team in Milwaukee. And that is when he beat Babe Ruth and a couple of years later, he retired. What did he do when he retired? He and his wife started an organization, a foundation, to help kids who were poor and who didn’t have much hope for the future. He and his wife raised lots of money and met with children and inspired them to work for their dreams.
Hank Aaron was a good man. He was kind. He did not return hate for hate, but he returned love for hate. So, last week Alabama and America lost a hero, a beloved hero, Hank Aaron. But he has left a wonderful example for us to follow.
I’m proud to now be living in Alabama. And I had no idea that so many famous people have come from Alabama. Well, that’s it for my story about Hank Aaron.
If you would like the written words for today’s episode, just go to www.englishwithoutfear.com And you’ll find the transcript about a day after the YouTube video uploads. And you’ll find other helps as well. This is Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time.
(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)