Baseball Great Hank Aaron, Who Played Minor League Ball In Jacksonville, Has Died

Jan 22, 2021

Hank Aaron, who shattered Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974, has died. "Hammerin' Hank" was 86.

The Atlanta Braves confirmed his death on Friday.

Because of his skill and power at the plate — Mr. Aaron batted in more than 100 runs in a season in three different decades — Major League Baseball named its award for the best offensive player after him.

Mr. Aaron played for the former Jacksonville Braves Class A Minor League team in 1953, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Mr. Aaron played at least one game at the old Wolfson Park, which was demolished to make way for 121 Financial Ballpark. He also played at Jacksonville’s Durkee Field - which is now called J.P. Small Memorial Stadium - off Eighth Street, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

Mr. Aaron lived four blocks from Durkee Field in the 1950s and walked to the ballpark to play for the Jacksonville Braves, according to Durkeeville Historical Society President Lloyd Washington, who spoke with WJCT News in 2017.

Mr. Aaron made it back to Jacksonville on July 27, 2019 for an appearance at a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp game to celebrate his 85th birthday, according to the Jacksonville Free Press, although his actual birthdate is February 5, 1934, according to History.com.

Related: Jacksonville City Hall Display Celebrates Durkeeville Baseball History

The Jacksonville Braves were the Class A Minor League affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves, which called Aaron up to the majors in 1954.

The franchise moved to Atlanta for the 1966 season, and that's where Aaron broke Ruth's hallowed record by hitting his 715th home run.

Mr. Aaron retired in 1976, after hitting 755 home runs during his pro career. That mark stood for more than 30 years, before Barry Bonds set a new record. Bonds finished his career with 762 home runs.

Mr. Aaron hit .305 over his career, accounting for 2,297 runs batted in and 6,856 total bases — both of which remain all-time records. After his retirement, the widely respected player went on to be an executive for the Atlanta Braves.

His death comes as the Braves organization and its fans are mourning the loss of Don Sutton, who became a longtime announcer for the team after a Hall of Fame pitching career.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.