What the legendary Hank Aaron meant to Cincinnati baseball

Obit Hank Aaron Photo Gallery
Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 08:14:53-05

Pete Rose will never forget Hank Aaron's kindness.

"Henry was a type of guy — you played against him but you pulled for him because he was such a great guy," Rose told WCPO Friday afternoon.

Aaron, one of baseball's greatest legends who hit 755 career home runs, died Friday. The Hall of Famer was 86. wrote Friday that Aaron is one of the most significant figures in American history for how he persevered through racism during his career and became a civil rights advocate.

"He's a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word on and off the field," Reds Hall of Fame and Museum executive director Rick Walls said. "What he stands for is big for baseball and connected to the Reds in many ways."

The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum has several items related to the late Hank Aaron.

Cincinnati was an important city to Aaron during his career.

The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum has several items related to Aaron's career, including game-used bats, scorecards and a warm-up jacket.

"He was a really good baseball player," Rose said. "I mean he could run, he could play defense. He could steal bases — 755 home runs. One of three people to get over 2,000 RBIs."

Aaron made his major league debut at Crosley Field in 1954. In that game, Aaron faced left-hander Joe Nuxhall, who later became a legend in the Reds radio booth.

When Rose made his first Major League Baseball All-Star Game appearance in 1965 in Minneapolis, he found himself sitting between Aaron and San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays a day before the game.

"I'll never forget how out of their way they went to make me feel comfortable," Rose said. "To make me feel like I was one of the guys."

Rose saw Aaron reach 3,000 career hits in May 1970 at Crosley Field.

A little more than a month later, the Reds moved to Riverfront Stadium, where Rose and Aaron were All-Star Game teammates for the game in Cincinnati.

Four years later, Aaron tied Babe Ruth with his 714th career home run off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham on Opening Day 1974 at Riverfront Stadium.

Hank Aaron tield Babe Ruth with his 714th career home run on April 4, 1974 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Former longtime Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman – in his first game in the Reds radio booth – made the call on Aaron's home run.

Aaron visited Great American Ball Park for the Civil Rights game in 2009 and the MLB All-Star Game in 2015.

"He had events at the Freedom Center and on the field," Walls said. "Everyone wants to get close to him when he was there. He was looked at as the god in baseball and it was Hank Aaron and it was amazing."

Aaron began his career in baseball in 1951 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro leagues. Just seven months after starting with them, he signed with the Boston Braves.

He stayed with the team for 21 years when they moved to Milwaukee and then Atlanta. He debuted in a major league game in 1954 in Milwaukee, after left fielder Bobby Thomson broke an ankle.

In 1974, Aaron hit home run number 715 in a game against the Dodgers, beating Babe Ruth's record. By the end of his baseball career, he would hit 755 home runs.

He came back to Milwaukee in 1975 to finish his career with the Brewers.

Aaron became the first player in the MLB to record 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.

Earlier this month, Aaron joined several civil rights leaders who received the COVID-19 vaccine at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Information from Scripps National and was used in this report.