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When Henry Aaron was born on February 5, 1934, the third child of Herbert and Estrella Aaron, it is likely no one in his family ever dreamed he would grow up to become one of the greatest Major League baseball players of all time. After all, the 1930s were bad times for black people. Segregation, especially in Alabama where Aaron was born, was the "norm", and black children were forced to attend racially segregated schools. Aaron's father had to support five children as a boilermaker's helper, earning only $75 or so per week.
Yet, from early childhood, Aaron was consumed with a passion for baseball. He practiced in his yard with a ball made of tightly wound rags. He also had a rubber ball, and used one of his mother's broomsticks to swing, sending the ball hard against the side of his parents' home.
When Aaron was just 13 years old, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's so-called "color line" and became the first Major League black baseball player, with the old Brooklyn Dodgers. Aaron idolized Robinson, vowing to be a star, just like him.
- Hank Aaron got his first break while still a teenager, when a scout for the Mobile Black Bears saw Aaron playing in a fast-pitch softball game and recruited him for his team.
- Hank Aaron, at age 18, Aaron was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns, which is another black baseball team, earning $200 per month.
- In 1953, Aaron's first season in the Sally League, he won the Most Valuable Player Award.
A second watershed event occurred when Dewey Griggs, a scout for the Boston Braves (who were to move to Milwaukee in 1953), signed him to a minor league contract in the Sally League, a Southern minor league. Hank Aaron also met his future wife, Barbara Lucas then. A superstar was about to make his appearance in Major League Baseball.
Though Aaron possessed tremendous natural talent at the plate and in the field, he was not exactly the picture of a strong, overpowering star player. He weighed just 160 pounds and batted cross-handed - something no good batters ever did. Nonetheless, he hit with power and was called up to the Milwaukee Braves for the 1954 season. There, he hit .280, with 13 home runs, before he broke his ankle in September. That was an ironic injury, since he had replaced Bobby Thomson in the starting lineup, who had broken his own ankle in spring training and was out for much of the season.
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