He was one of the greatest baseball players of All-Time and was a key figure during the Civil Rights movement as well. Aaron, who holds the MLB record for All-Star selections with 25, famously broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in April 1974.
His 755 homers stood as the Major League record for 33 years before Barry Bonds became the leader of the club.
47 years ago today, Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run & broke Babe Ruth's all-time record.
The All-Star Game was originally scheduled to be held in Atlanta, home of the Braves and the uniform Aaron donned when becoming the home run champion. But after voter suppression laws were passed in the state of Georgia, Major League Baseball decided to move the game to Denver, Colorado.
Even with the venue change, the initiative to honor the legacy of one of the all-time greats stays the same.
First, the cleats:
Nike along with Ken Griffey Jr. partnered to design the “Air Griffey Metal Hank” cleats. The cleat is exclusively given to each Nike athlete participating in the All-Star Game and honors Aaron’s legacy both on and off the field.
Different elements from each team Aaron played for are used in the design of the cleat:
The Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues red tongue and heel pull tags, the Milwaukee Braves crimson heel swoosh, the Atlanta Braves grey swoosh on the ankle-straps tabs, and mudguard pinstripes, and the Milwaukee Brewers blue and gold eye stay.
Aaron’s motto “Keep Swinging” is on the side of the cleat and his career stats are inside the shoe. His “44” also replaces the normal Griffey “24”.
The sock liner features a “44” bottle cap, which refers to Aaron’s childhood penchant to practice his swing using found objects.
Nike is also pledging $104,000 to the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation’s “4 for 4” programs, providing at least $4,000 per year for four years to students attending historically Black colleges and universities.
Aaron was famously quoted saying “I see these young kids coming along now and they are chasing their dreams. It just so happens that their dreams cost a little bit more than mine did. I am hoping they catch it and they can do the things they want to do in life.”
This season, MLB is doing something a little different with the All-Star jerseys. Instead of players wearing their team’s home and away uniforms, Nike has designed a uniform that will commemorate one of baseball’s highest honors – an All-Star selection.
Players will have stars on the back of their jerseys for each time they have appeared at the game. It will also feature their team logo and a patch that pays respect to the host Colorado Rockies. The National League is considered the home team and will be wearing white while the American League will wear blue.
These uniforms will be worn on Tuesday, July 13 during the game, but Monday Night Baseball will honor Hank Aaron in what is a highly-anticipated Home Run Derby.
After some rough years, MLB may be on the verge of reversing a troubling trend.
When Major League Baseball announced its finalists for the second round of voting, only six Black players made the cut, and five of those came from the American League.
Thats six out of 51.
2B – Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
OF – Aaron Judge, New York Yankees; Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins; Michael Brantley, Houston Astros; Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
OF – Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
No more than 6 Black American players have made an All-Star game since 2015, with a low of 4 in both ‘16 & ‘19. This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way. Check out the MLBbro All-Star update from @DMGrubb on https://t.co/ndikOTIJyDpic.twitter.com/Ivv3JBiHxs
Semien is the only player who is currently the leading vote-getter at his position, while Judge, Buxton, and Brantley sit second through fourth in the AL outfield voting.
That being said, at least four of those six should have their names called when the starting lineups are announced this Thursday night, with those who miss out likely being named as reserves.
Counting position players only, there’s been an average of just over six Black All-Stars per year since the 2011 season.
Things looked great at the start of the decade with nine players making appearances in the the Midsummer Classic.
However, since the retirement of some perennial all-stars like Derek Jeter, Torii Hunter, and Prince Fielder, the numbers have started to trail off.
There haven’t been more than six Black American players in any All-Star game since 2015, with a low of four in both 2016 and 2019.
This season could be different as a new generation of stars is starting to find its way into the stratosphere.
We’ve seen breakout performances from a number of players who, if they don’t make the team this season, should in the near future.
Semien, Buxton, and Mullins would all be deserving first-time selections.
In an offseason where the Toronto Blue Jays acquired three-time all-star George Springer, it’s been Marcus Semien who has been the most impactful newcomer to the Jays’ lineup.
With Springer limited to 32 at-bats in 2021, Semien has been Toronto’s second-best player all season long. Batting .281 with 18 home runs, 45 RBI, and 37 extra base hits, he ranks first among AL second basemen in hits (87), doubles (18), homeruns (18), RBI (45), and slugging percentage (.519). He’s also second in both runs scored and OPS.
For Buxton, the fan vote will likely have to come through in order for him to be selected. Due to injuries, the Minnesota Twins outfielder has been limited to 27 games.
In those 27 games Buxton has been brilliant.
Over just 103 at-bats, “Buck” has been slashing like Kordell Stewart, putting up a .369/.409/.767 stat line, with 10 home runs. Nelson Cruz leads the Twins with 17, in 131 more ABs. Buxton still remains tied for second on the team with 11 doubles and ranks fifth in total bases.
With Cruz having another outstanding season at the age of 40, Buxton probably won’t get a nod as a reserve, so stuffing the ballot box looks like a must.
Like Buxton, Cedric Mullins has put it all together in 2021, but unlike him, Mullins has been available day-in and day-out for the Baltimore Orioles.
In what has so far been a forgettable 2021 season, Mullins has been one of the lone bright spots for the O’s.
He’s flourished in his role as Baltimore’s leadoff man and has played Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
His .315 batting average is 50 points higher than his career mark, and he’s posting highs in on-base percentage (.383), slugging (.537), and OPS (.920).
Among AL outfielders, he ranks in the top ten in batting average, runs (43), doubles (21), triples (3), home runs (13), and walks (30), while leading them all with 94 base hits and 14 stolen bases. Throw in the fact that he’s doing it for the offense with the second worst production in the league, and Mullins could be considered an MVP candidate if Baltimore were winning.
If he isn’t in Colorado, we riot.
Other newcomers like Tony Kemp of the Oakland A’s, LaMonte Wade across the bay in San Francisco, Bobby Bradley of the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, Daz Cameron and Akil Baddoo in Detroit, Seattle’s Shed Long Jr. and JP Crawford, Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham in San Diego, and so on, are also coming.
While his father was in attendance, all Nick could focus on was the game.
“I actually didn’t see him,” he told MLB.com. “I didn’t see him the entire game. I’m not really sure where he was sitting at. That’s usually not too hard to find. I usually find him. But I was kind of focused today. Kind of got on the field and really didn’t look up too much.”
Tom Gordon was excited to have the opportunity to watch his son play in an MLB game and it certainly won’t be the last time he attends a game.
“I want every ball he hits out of the park,” Tom Gordon said. “I want every ball to be hit hard. He sure better not make an error, because then I’m fussing about that. I think that comes with it. As much as I love it, I appreciate it.
“At the same time, I appreciate how much his teammates and friends and family, everybody that’s here, love him.”
When Nick hit his first home run, he didn’t know if it was going to go out or not. One thing he did know was that he got a good swing on the ball.
Hitting your first major league home run is a tremendous accomplishment, and it only took Gordon five games to hit his first.
“I wasn’t expecting to hit a homer,” he said. “I definitely didn’t off the bat think it was going to go that far. I just thought I got it pretty good and I looked up and it was gone. It felt pretty good.”
The 25-year-old has definitely given the Twins’ coaching staff multiple reasons to keep him in the lineup.
Speed kills, and for Nick, it works to his advantage. On the base path, he’s definitely a threat and can cause problems for defenses. He has five stolen bases on the season and that number will continue to increase as the season progresses.
The Twins can utilize him in the infield and outfield, and with his legs, he can track balls down in the outfield and take away hits.
If he keeps playing the way he has been playing this month, he will continue to see the field and have opportunities to become a player the Twins can use on a consistent basis.
Michael Brantley has brought the juice to the Houston offense since returning from a hamstring injury on June 8th. He now leads all of Major League Baseball in batting average and his Astros sit in first place in the American League after winning nine of their last 10 games.
Brantley left for the Injured List and returned as a man possessed. Entering Tuesday night’s game Brantley is 24-for-47 with a .511 batting average, seven doubles, 14 RBI, 11 runs, six walks, a triple and a home run in 12 games this month, catapulting him to first place in the Majors with a .350 batting average.
It’s no surprise to us that Brantley, or as we call him, “The Professional, ” is getting the job done at the plate. He has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball throughout his 13-year career. Brantley is a career .299 batter and has been to four All-Star Games. This season Brantley is leading the American League with 21 doubles and his .350 average is .10 higher than second place in baseball.
Brantley’s play over this past weekend against Tim Anderson and the Chicago White Sox put the entire league on notice. The Astros broke out the brooms at home as they swept their four-game set. Michael got the party in H-Town started Thursday night with a three-run home run in the first inning. He finished the series hitting 5-for-16 with six RBI, three runs, a double, triple and that three-run shot.
Michael Brantley is absolutely destroying baseballs this season. This 3 run bomb raises his average to .347 on the year pic.twitter.com/va9Xo5dePO
Since his June 8th return from the Injured List, Brantley has eight multi-hit games and four games with multiple runs batted in, all while his Astros have a record of 11-2. They have the best record in the American League and are two games behind the San Francisco Giants for the best record in baseball.
Brantley was a member of the 2019 Astros team that reached the World Series but lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals and former MLBbro World Series MVP Howie Kendrick. He, along with manager Dusty Baker have some postseason demons they must deal with. A championship ring for both this season would solidify their careers and put some much-needed respect on their names.
Telly Hughes is back with another A Bro Convo. This time “The Voice of MLBbro.com ” speaks with 17-year MLB veteran Mike Cameron, whose son Daz, a rookie with the Detroit Tigers, made him proud on Father’s Day. It was the first time the elder Cameron would see Daz play live on the field while sitting in the stands.
At the time of recording, Mike didn’t know that his son would actually deliver the goods.