Do you know the story of “Hammerin’ Hank”…?
He is one of the most successful professional athletes in the history of sports.
His perseverance in the face of adversity should be a lesson to us all…
He exemplifies the principles of living a life of significance, and I consider him to be a role model for anyone hoping to excel in business or their personal life.
So, for those of you who aren’t sports fans, let me tell you about Hank Aaron and the legacy he left behind…
Swinging at a fastball takes perseverance
Hank Aaron, who faced death threats and racism while chasing down Babe Ruth’s home-run record in a memorable pursuit that captured the country’s attention, died on January 22, 2021.
In a year fraught with challenges, the country lost a legend. It lost a warrior.
I had the opportunity to share a podium with Hank Aaron during a speaking engagement.
His humility, gratitude, grace, and fortitude impacted me beyond his achievements as an athlete.
He was a consummate professional…a first-class gentleman on and off the field.
He had weathered death threats to himself and his family, endured criticism and rebuke because of his race, and yet he kept his head held high. He clung to his beliefs in decency, tolerance and faith.
With his odd cross-handed grip on the bat, Hank Aaron stood on the plate and stared down his opponents with a belief in his abilities.
With perseverance, he was willing to stare down the fastball…on the diamond and off.
In high school, I played four sports: football, basketball, baseball and track and field.
I received a scholarship to play football and baseball in college. I loved baseball the most because it was an individual sport played with eight fellow players on a field of dreams.
The pivotal point in every inning, in every baseball game, began and ended with the battle between pitcher and batter.
With the pitcher 60 feet 6 inches away from home plate – throwing a 95-mile-an-hour fastball that to the batter appears the size of an aspirin – the batter has less than one-tenth of a second to decide if he should swing.
Hank Aaron stared down his opponent and connected with the ball three times out of ten.
That took bravery and perseverance.
If it were easy, everyone would do it…
If a player has a .200 batting average in baseball, he hits safely on base 2 out of 10 times.
Obviously, a .300 batting average means you hit safely on base 3 out of 10 times.
A .200 hitter makes minimum salary.
A .300 hitter is a superstar and makes maximum salary. We all know this.
Most don’t realize that the difference between a .200 hitter and a .300 hitter is only one hit in every 10 times up to bat A.K.A. perseverance!
If the batters let it go to full count – three balls and two strikes – the difference between a .200 hitter and a .300 hitter is one hit in every 60 pitches!
The difference between average, good and being great is small but extremely significant – not only in the way we play ball but in the way we play the game of life!
Of course, Mr. Aaron’s lifetime batting average is .305!
For me, this explanation epitomizes what Hank Aaron meant to baseball and the legacy he leaves to the world. He demonstrated perseverance… he did the little things that made a big difference on the field, in the clubhouse, in the community, and when he stood up for racial equality and human dignity.
Mr. Aaron, who started his career as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, held baseball’s home-run crown for 33 years before his career mark of 755 homers was only eclipsed in 2007 by Barry Bonds.
Let that sink in…
Mr. Aaron was not just a slugger but one of baseball’s all-time greatest players. He hit for both power and average and was a solid outfielder.
He is baseball’s all-time leader in runs batted in, extra-base hits, and total bases.
The most significant part of Hank’s story is how he persevered in an impoverished community in Mobile, Alabama, taught himself to hit with an unorthodox cross-handed swing, and blossomed into one of the game’s legendary figures.
As a kid, he was one of my heroes and will always be an icon of the Baby Boomer generation. He exemplified resilience and perseverance.
If you weigh all the elements involved and compare the game fairly, his career will never be topped.
Are you taking a solid swing at your life?
Mr. Aaron’s record-shattering 715th homer came on national TV on April 8, 1974.
As Hank rounded second base, sportscaster Vin Scully commented,
“What a marvelous moment for the country and the world to see a black man getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of the all-time baseball idol Babe Ruth!”
Hank Aaron’s illustrious career includes 25 All-Star Game appearances and being named National League Most Valuable Player.
And his life was honored by the President of the United States when he presented Mr. Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It’s the highest national civilian award bestowed on significant people who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the national interests of the United States and world peace, in public or private endeavors.”
With every single powerful swing of his bat, Mr. Hank Aaron showed the world that with equal opportunity, hard work – fueled by a mighty dream – anybody in America could make their dream come true…
…as long as we keep swinging for the fence like ‘Hammerin Hank’ did every time he came up to bat!
Do you perceive barriers to your success? Would you like to overcome them with a life coach? It’s possible. And I can help. Contact me, and we can talk about your journey towards a life of significance.