Tuesday, February 5, 2019

#31 Hank Aaron - Milwaukee Braves

Henry Louis Aaron
Milwaukee Braves

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  180
Born:  February 5, 1934, Mobile, AL
Signed:  Signed as a free agent with the Boston Braves, June 14, 1952
Major League Teams:  Milwuakee Braves 1954-1965; Atlanta Braves 1966-1974; Milwaukee Brewers 1975-1976
Hall of Fame Induction:  1982

Hank Aaron was one of the best players of his era, and was baseball's career home run leader between the years 1974 and 2006.  Playing for 23 seasons from 1954 to 1976, Aaron was a National League All-Star 21 times making the squad in all but his first and last seasons.  He tallied a career .305 average with 755 home runs and 2,297 RBIs, which is still more RBIs than anyone in Major League history.  He was the National League MVP in 1957, which is also the only year his Braves won the World Series.

On Aaron's page on the Hall of Fame's website, there's this quote from former Phillies pitcher Curt Simmons - "Trying to throw a fastball by Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster."

Following his retirement as an active player in 1976, Aaron has continually served as one of the game's best ambassadors.

Building the Set
December 25, 2006 from Mays Landing, NJ - Card #278
This was the last "big" card my Dad and I needed to complete the set, and the second most expensive purchase next to the Mickey Mantle card (#135).  I was officially given the card on Christmas day 2006, but my Dad had purchased it several weeks (months?) before at a baseball card show held at the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, NJ.

This was one of nine cards I received that Christmas from my Dad, and he spent a total of $210 on all nine cards with the Aaron costing $150.  Like all of his purchases, he was extremely proud of the card's condition and I'm sure there was a negotiation story that went along with the acquisition.

Our first son Doug was born a few weeks before Christmas in 2006 and we brought him home just in time for the big day.  He obviously doesn't remember much from his first Christmas, but he spent the holidays being held and loved by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  The picture shown here is from Christmas Day 2006, shortly after I had added those nine cards to our (and one day Doug's) 1956 Topps set.  Evidenced by the gift tag attached to the package holding the Aaron card (and the other 8 cards) my Dad fully intended for this card to be a part of Doug's collection all along.

One of the great joys of my life was seeing how proud my Dad was to have a grandson.

The Card
In a case of once you see it, you can't unsee it, that's actually Willie Mays in an airbrushed Braves hat sliding into home in the action shot.  In defense of Topps, Aaron was still early on in his career and I suppose they didn't yet have a good action shot of the young slugger.  The portrait of Aaron is the same found on both his 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.

If you don't count Minnie Minoso (#125), who came back for pinch-hitting appearances in 1976 and 1980, Aaron was the last active player to appear in the 1956 Topps set.

1956 Season
Aaron was only 22 and enjoying his second full season in the Majors in 1956.  He'd make the All-Star team for the second time and he'd win his first of two batting titles by hitting .328.  He hit 26 home runs, collected 92 RBIs and led the league in doubles with 34.

1954 Topps #128
1976 Topps #550
2001 Topps #385
2019 Topps 150 Years
Greatest Moments #150-35
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1954 Topps #128
First Topps Card:  1954 Topps #128
Last Topps Card:  1976 Topps #550
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  2001 Topps #385
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2019 Topps - 13 different insert cards

In 1974, Topps gave Aaron the honor of having the first six cards in the set, with card #1 celebrating the new home run king and cards #2 through #6 showcasing Aaron's base cards from the Topps flagship sets between 1954 and 1973.

2,090 - Aaron non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 1/30/19.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

1 comment:

  1. Great post as usual. Love the fact about him being the last active player to be featured in the 1956 set (outside of Minoso). This is the kind of trivia I live for.