Braves outfielder Hank Aaron takes a swing of hist bat at Atlanta Stadium, circa 1969.
Photo: AJC
Photo: AJC

April 15 once belonged to Hank Aaron, too

Before April 15 was celebrated across baseball as Jackie Robinson Day, it belonged to Braves slugger Hank Aaron.

An All-Star for 25 straight seasons, Aaron was baseball’s all-time home run leader (755) until 2007. He holds the major-league records for the most career runs batted in (2,297), the most career extra base hits (1,477), and the most career total bases (6,856).

Aaron played for the Braves in Milwaukee and Atlanta from 1954 to ’74.

On April 15, 1977, Atlanta retired Aaron’s No. 44 in pre-game ceremonies at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. 

» More: Braves’ retired jerseys

The Brewers, the last team Aaron played for, retired his jersey a year earlier.

He became the first player to have his number retired by two teams. Since then, the feat has been repeated for:
• Nolan Ryan (No. 30 Angels; No. 34 Astros and Rangers)
• Carlton Fisk (No. 27 Red Sox; No. 72 White Sox)
• Reggie Jackson (No. 9 A’s; No. 44 Yankees)
• Frank Robinson (No. 20 Reds, Orioles, Indians)
• Greg Maddux (No. 31 Braves, Cubs)

The Cubs have retired No. 31 twice in honor of two players: Maddux, whose number Atlanta retired in 2009, and Ferguson Jenkins.

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947, as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His No. 42 was retired across baseball in 1997.

Since 2004, Major League Baseball has paid tribute to Jackie Robinson on April 15. The Braves, who have Monday off, will honor Robinson with a pre-game ceremony Tuesday, April 16.

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