On a gloomy Friday morning, the news arrived that Henry Aaron was gone.
Following the deaths of several Hall of Fame players, the greatest of them all died at age 86.
Aaron and other black players in the generation following Jackie Robinson showed tremendous courage as well.
Growing up in the brutally segregated Mobile, Ala., Aaron first gained national stardom with the Milwaukee Braves, leading the team to a World Series victory over the New York Yankees and winning the Most Valuable Player award in 1957.
After the team moved to Atlanta, Aaron achieved his greatest triumph, breaking Babe Ruth's venerated career home run record, withstanding intense racial opposition. His accomplishment on April 8, 1974, at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium marked Atlanta's coming of age as a major city and the South's fragile racial progress.
He was a great man as well as a great ballplayer. His swing was unforgettable, and so was his smile.