"Hammerin' Hank" is gone. Baseball legend Hank Aaron has died at age 86, reports WSB-TV in Atlanta. His daughter confirmed the death, though no cause was immediately given. Aaron was the one-time home run king of baseball after hitting 755 in his 23-year career, which was spent mostly with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. He surpassed Babe Ruth's record of 714 in the 1974 season, and held the title for three decades until Barry Bonds eclipsed him. But his impact went far beyond the game. Aaron battled what CBS 46 calls "horrendous racism" throughout his career and endured death threats when he neared Ruth's record.
“These people feel this is going to be a weak part of me,” the Alabama native said about the hate mail at the time, per Al.com. “They think they’ll upset me with their words or their shouts, that they’ll get me where I can’t do the job. This won’t happen. ... This only makes me more determined.” As the Washington Post puts it, Aaron used his famed career "as a platform to champion civil rights." In regard to baseball, the newspaper collects a great quote from opposing pitcher Curt Simmons: “Throwing a fastball by Henry Aaron is like trying to sneak the sun past a rooster.” Muhammad Ali also had a famous quote about Aaron: He's "the only man I idolize more than myself." (Read more Hank Aaron stories.)