The baseball world — no, the world as a whole — lost a great one today.
Hammerin' Hank Aaron, who was (and still is, to many) baseball's all-time home run king for quite some time, passed away at age 86.
He was everything you could want on the field. He was a true five-tool player, with rarely seen power that led to 755 home runs, an amazing offensive arsenal marked by his .305/.374/.555 career slash line, speed on the base paths with over 200 career steals and a knack for extra base hits, and fielding abilities that led to multiple Gold Glove awards. There's a reason that Major League Baseball hands out the Hank Aaron Award to the top hitter in each league.
But his legacy was more, as he dealt with ruthless racism and countless obstacles throughout his pursuit for baseball greatness. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Order of the Rising Sun and several other honors that typified his brilliance outside of baseball and his work on civil rights among other important causes.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Muhammad Ali, when he called Aaron, "the only man I idolize more than myself."
And so it comes as no surprise that the baseball world was not only deeply upset by this profound loss but also highly sentimental on all the amazing things Aaron accomplished and how much he impacted so many different people.
Braves chairman Terry McGuirk released a statement upon hearing of his passing (via Mark Feinsand):
We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn't just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.
We are heartbroken and thinking of his wife Billye and their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorinda and Ceci and his grandchildren.
Among the players and teams to mourn the loss of Aaron were David Ortiz and Andrew McCutchen.
Several sports media outlets, personalities and writers also shared tidbits from his career that outlined just how incredible he was.