These Hank Aaron quotes speak to his love of baseball, hard life lessons, and how he saw himself.
Few people have lived out the American Dream in the way Hammerin’ Hank (Hank Aaron) did. When Hank was a little boy, he reportedly told his father he wanted to be an airline pilot. His father replied, “Ain’t no black airline pilots.”
Little Hank then told his father he wanted to be a major league baseball player. His dad’s response was, “’Ain’t no black baseball players.” However, when Hank Aaron was 13 years old, that changed thanks to Jackie Robinson.
Hank Aaron was born and raised in, or very near, Mobile, Alabama; which was a segregated state. In fact, he played on the Negro American League briefly. That league was established in 1932 and disbanded in 1962.
On March 14, Hank Aaron’s dream of playing in the Major League came true; one day after Milwaukee Braves left fielder, Bobby Thomson fractured his ankle. Hank was often separated from his team because of Jim Crow laws.
What a dark time in our history, that greatness was made to feel “less than” because of the color of his skin. Keep reading these Hank Aaron quotes to learn more about how Hank felt being a black baseball player.
Hank Aaron quotes about being a black baseball player
1. “On the field, blacks have been able to be supergiants. But, once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again.” — Hank Aaron
2. “There wasn’t much white people would allow us to do in those days. You could be a schoolteacher or an athlete to get away from the manual labor and servant-type jobs, but there wasn’t much else they were going to allow you [to] do.” — Hank Aaron
3. “Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long way to go in the country.” — Hank Aaron
4. “There’s only one way to break the color line. Be good. I mean, play good. Play so good that they can’t remember what color you were before the season started.” — Hank Aaron
5. “I was being thrown to the wolves. Even though I did something great, nobody wanted to be a part of it. I was so isolated. I couldn’t share it. For many years, even after Jackie Robinson, baseball was so segregated, really. You just didn’t expect us to have a chance to do anything. Baseball was meant for the lily-white.” — Hank Aaron
6. “Some people resented the fact I was trying to break a white man’s record.” — Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron quotes about playing baseball
7. “I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore – not even in batting practice.” — Hank Aaron
8. “It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.” — Hank Aaron
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of golf quotes that will give you the motivation to keep playing and practice.
9. “The pitcher has got only a ball. I’ve got a bat. So the percentage in weapons is in my favor, and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting.” — Hank Aaron
10. “I never smile when I have a bat in my hands. That’s when you’ve got to be serious. When I get out on the field, nothing’s a joke to me. I don’t feel like I should walk around with a smile on my face.” — Hank Aaron
11. “The thing I like about baseball is that it’s one-on-one. You stand up there alone, and if you make a mistake, it’s your mistake. If you hit a home run, it’s your home run.” — Hank Aaron
12. “I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn’t throw it past me, none of them.” — Hank Aaron
13. “There is no logical reason why girls shouldn’t play baseball. It’s not all that tough.” — Hank Aaron
14. “I think about how a guy mentally prepared himself to do battle, to go out and face the pitcher. I think so many hitters do not know how to get themselves prepared to play or hit against a pitcher. You have to mentally be prepared to hit against all pitchers.” — Hank Aaron
15. “Guessing what the pitcher is going to throw is 80% of being a successful hitter. The other 20% is just execution.” — Hank Aaron
16. “I played sometimes about as dull as you can play it. I did things the right way; you know. I think I modeled my playing ability after one of the all-time greats, Joe DiMaggio. You always found Joe, when he played, you know, he always threw to the right base. He ran, he caught the ball. He did all the right things. He was an idol of mine in the outfield. He played the game the way it was supposed to be played.” — Hank Aaron
17. “Looking at the ball going over the fence isn’t going to help.” — Hank Aaron
18. “I think what separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer.” — Hank Aaron
19. “You visualize [pitches]. You see it in your head; you think it…I used to play every pitcher in my mind before I went to the ballpark. I started getting ready for every game the moment I woke up.” — Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron quotes about himself
20. “I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you’re inferior, it makes you wonder if the other guys have something you’ve never seen before. If they do, I’m still looking for it.” — Hank Aaron
21. “I’ve tried a lot of things in the off-season, but the only thing I really know is baseball.” — Hank Aaron
22. “I don’t feel right unless I have a sport to play or at least a way to work up a sweat.” — Hank Aaron
23. “I came to the Braves on business, and I intended to see that business was good as long as I could.” — Hank Aaron
24. “Last year, I was sort of a kid and I was a little scared, I ain’t scared anymore.” — Hank Aaron
25. “I am very proud to be an American. This country has so much potential, I’d just like to see things better, or whatever, and I think it will be.” — Hank Aaron
26. “Once the record was mine, I had to use it like a Louisville Slugger. I believed, and still do, that there was a reason why I was chosen to break the record. I feel it’s my task to carry on where Jackie Robinson left off, and I only know of one way to go about it. It’s the only way I’ve ever had of dealing with things like fastballs and bigotry — keep swinging at them.” — Hank Aaron
27. “I never thought home runs were all that exciting. I still think the triple is the most exciting thing in baseball. To me, a triple is like a guy taking the ball on his 1-yard line and running 99 yards for a touchdown.” — Hank Aaron
28. “If I knew exactly what I know now and had it to do over, I’d be a switch hitter. No telling what I could have done.” — Hank Aaron
29. “Can I smoke now without someone taking my picture?” — Hank Aaron
30. “People were not ready to accept me as a baseball player. The easiest part of that whole thing, chasing the Babe’s record, was playing the game itself. The hardest thing was after the game was over, dealing with the press. They could never understand.” — Hank Aaron
31. “Didn’t come up here to read. Came up here to hit.” — Hank Aaron
32. “Jackie was speaking at a drugstore, and I said, ‘I’m not going to get this opportunity again, so I better take my chances and listen to Jackie Robinson now.’ Little did I know, I got front row seats, and next to me was my father.” — Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron quotes about the game
33. “Making the majors is not as hard as staying there, staying interested day after day. It’s like being married. The hardest part is to stay married.” — Hank Aaron
34. “In baseball, there is something electrifying about the big leagues. I had read so much about (Stan) Musial, (Ted) Williams, and (Jackie) Robinson. I had put those guys on a pedestal. They were something special. I really thought they put their pants on different, rather than one leg at a time.” — Hank Aaron
35. “You got to play a hundred and fifty games a year, so pick your spots. You can miss two games a month; so pick the days you’re gonna be hurt, or you’re gonna rest, or you’re gonna have a drink or two. The rest of the time, be on that field.” — Hank Aaron
36. “I had just turned 20, and Jackie told me the only way to be successful at anything was to go out and do it. He said baseball was a game you played every day, not once a week.” — Hank Aaron
37. “Baseball is a lot like the ivy-covered wall of Wrigley Field — it gives off a great appearance, but when you run into it, you discover the bricks underneath. At times, it seems that we’re dealing with a group of men who aren’t much different than others we’ve all run into over the years, except they wear neckties instead of robes and hoods.” — Hank Aaron
38. “Baseball needs me because it needs somebody to stir the pot, and I need it because it’s my life. It’s the means I have to make a little difference in the world.” — Hank Aaron
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of Baseball quotes for the inner child.
Hank Aaron quotes about life
39. “Does Pete (Rose) hustle? Before the All-Star game he came into the clubhouse and took off his shoes and they ran another mile without him.” — Hank Aaron
40. “Failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” — Hank Aaron
41. “Failure is a part of success.” — Hank Aaron
42. “You can only milk a cow so long, then you’re left holding the pail.” — Hank Aaron
43. “You’ve got to remember, the older you get, the slower you get. I’ve seen a lot of players get old … if I can have a good season in 1972 and come back with another good one, well, that’s different. I might not quit. But two bad ones back to back and staying home would be written on the wall.” — Hank Aaron
44. “Consistency is what counts; you have to be able to do things over and over again.” — Hank Aaron
45. “To this day, whenever I’m in Milwaukee, which is often, I’m reminded that the people there still haven’t gotten over the Braves leaving … If it helps, they should know the players haven’t either.” — Hank Aaron
46. “The way I see it, it’s a great thing to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it’s a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit. So as long as there’s a chance that maybe I can hammer out a little justice now and then or a little opportunity here and there, I intend to do as I always have — keep swinging.” — Hank Aaron
47. “Roger Maris lost his hair the season he hit sixty-one, I still have all my hair, but when it’s over, I’m going home to Mobile and fish for a long time.” — Hank Aaron
48. “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling bad or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” — Hank Aaron
49. “In playing ball, and in life, a person occasionally gets the opportunity to do something great. When that time comes, only two things matter: being prepared to seize the moment and having the courage to take your best swing.” — Hank Aaron
50. “I tell young people – including my granddaughter – there is no shortcut in life. You have to take it one step at a time and work hard. And you have to give back.” — Hank Aaron
Which of these Hank Aaron quotes resonated with you best?
Hank Aaron was most famous for hitting more home runs (755 to be exact) than any other baseball player in history, hence the name Hammerin’ Hank! He is responsible for breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714. Barry Bonds did beat his record in 2007, but it was revealed he had used steroids.
Hank holds a much more profound place in the history books though, as someone who spoke out against racism and who was able to smash through several racial barriers. One of those barriers included becoming one of baseball’s first black executives, for the Atlanta Braves. At one point, he had a net worth of 25 million dollars.
Hank Aaron left the Braves after the 1974 season. He went on to play for the Milwaukee Brewers until he retired from baseball in 1976, at the age of 42.
Are you a fan of baseball? Leave any other Hank Aaron quotes or records in the comment section below!
January 25, 2021 7:00 AM EST