MILWAUKEE — Hammerin Hank wasn't just admired for what he did as a baseball player but as a humanitarian.
Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas talked with TMJ4 News' Charles Benson about the wonderful times he spent with Hank Aaron during the 17 years he worked for Major League Baseball.
Sheriff Lucas: He was the king and everyone else sort of fell in line and Hank wasn't one that put-on airs, he just commanded the respect of a room when he walked in. And again, having that chance to witness that was just surely something.
Benson: Is there a way to put in words what he meant to not only baseball but Milwaukee?
Sheriff Lucas: I'll even go further, Charles, and say what he meant to humanity. When you think about the young boy who was born in the Old South and Mobile, Alabama, who persevered racism and discrimination to come to Wisconsin, Eau Claire, in 1952 and then make the big leagues. Two years thereafter, and then spend 23 years at the big-league level breaking the home run record of Babe Ruth and all of the hate and racism that he endured there in breaking that hallowed record. His record will always be one of grace and dignity and I think his memory will transcend just being a baseball player but a great humanitarian.
Aaron began his career in the Negro Leagues and minor leagues through his youth in his late teens.
He made his first Major League appearance at 20-years-old with the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 through 1976, making a huge impact on the City of Milwaukee.
Aaron played 21 seasons for Milwaukee and held the MLB record for career home runs for 33 years.
In 1982, Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after he won the World Series and won three Golden Glove awards.
Benson: There really was much more to the man than just baseball?
Sheriff Lucas: Oh, without a doubt, if you just look at him as simply a baseball player you miss really who he was and what he was all about because he went on to become an entrepreneur. He owned several businesses in Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the country. He went on to become a great lecturer and support a number of entities, Historic Black Colleges, and other things. But more importantly, he encouraged generations of young men and women of every race in every color to pursue their goals and pursue their dreams despite whatever situation and circumstances that they encountered in life.
Aaron died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 86.