The sport of baseball lost one of its biggest legends.
‘Hammerin’ Hank Aaron passed away at the age of 86.
The home run king’s legacy stretches far and wide, well past the diamond. From social justice activism, to being an ambassador of baseball and human decency, Aaron’s presence on the American psyche was felt for decades.
Aaron had countless stops along his journey in life, and one of them happened to be at the University of Michigan in 2016. After attending a Jim Harbaugh led satelite camp in Atlanta, Harbaugh offered Aaron a slot as honorary captain for the upcoming season. “I want you to be my honorary captain”, Harbaugh told Aaron, an offer he would accept.
Aaron was the honorary captain for Michigan’s game against Illinois, which turned into a 41-8 rout. After the game was over, I asked Harbaugh what it was like having Aaron around the team.
“It was outstanding, Trevor. He’s just such a great man, such a gentleman. His granddaughter, as you know, goes to Michigan, and we’ve become friends through her. I was getting texts last night, I was at a high school game and some of the guys on the team were texting me how great Hank Aaron was. He talked to the team last night. Just A+. Can’t have it better,” Harbaugh said. “Got a nice autographed picture that he was gracious enough to sign so I’m gonna hang that in my office. Just being around—you know when you’re around greatness, and he’s one of the all-time greats. Really honored to share a sideline with Hank Aaron today.”
Aaron and Harbaugh struck a friendship, and Aaron was a believer in Harbaugh as a coach. “The guys play hard for him and they like him,” Aaron told the Detroit Free Press.
During Aaron’s trip to Michigan in ‘16, he met with the baseball team as well. “I thought what really came through loud and clear was the humility that he carries himself with,” head coach Eric Bakich said, “and the integrity he has.”
Aaron will be remembered for his 755 home runs and being a man of integrity.