Today in sports history (1954), the legendary Hank Aaron replaces an injured Bobby Thompson, and the rest was history. The newly-acquired Milwaukee Braves outfielder Thompson had just broken his ankle. Thompson was known for his “shot heard round the world.” Many Braves fans believed that the season was lost after this injury.
Little did Braves and MLB fans know that Thompson’s replacement would go on to be one of the greatest MLB players ever.
Transition From Bobby Thompson to Hank Aaron
Thompson was the key piece in a seven-player trade. Looking to get a fresh start, many, including Thompson himself, were excited. However, he fractured his ankle in three places sliding into second base in an exhibition game. Even with the loss of Thompson and the uncertainty around Hank Aaron, the Braves stayed in the race all year. After a late-season collapse, the Braves finished eighth. Braves were optimistic though, as Aaron had hit .280 with 13 home runs and 66 RBIs.
Hank Aaron then started one of the best resumes in baseball history. From 1955-75, Aaron made every All-Star game. He also went on to hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955-73. The biggest accolade to Aaron’s fame though was his home run record. Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, hitting a total of 755 in his career.
Due to the state of the United States at the time, Aaron faced constant racism and criticism. Many people did not want Ruth’s record to be broken. This record was later broken by Barry Bonds. Aaron’s record for most RBIs in a career still stands, at 2,297. Hank Aaron was selected to the MLB Hall of Fame in 1982.