AP PHOTOS: Hank Aaron exceled and inspired

The baseball world and beyond tuned in the night of April 8, 1974, and Hank Aaron delivered. That’s when The Hammer broke Babe Ruth’s home run record with No. 715, an achievement that highlighted his career but hardly defined it.

Hall of Famer. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. American hero.

“You were and are an inspiration to be a better person on and off the field. We lost a true LEGEND of the game today,” three-time MVP Mike Trout tweeted.

Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity on his way to hitting 755 homers and ascending the Mount Rushmore of sports, died Friday at 86.

The Braves star still holds the mark for RBIs and extra-base hits, though his home run record was broken by Barry Bonds in 2007.

Fittingly for a man who did so much for so many, Aaron’s last public appearance came just 2 1/2 weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help show Black Americans it was safe.

A final, significant shot from Hammerin’ Hank.

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