Museum Debuts Statue of Hall of Famer Henry Aaron

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Throughout the challenges of his extraordinary life, Henry Aaron kept swinging.

On Thursday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum paid tribute to Aaron’s singular legacy with the unveiling of a statue that will stand for all time at the home of baseball.

With Aaron’s widow Billye on hand for the festivities along with more than a dozen Hall of Famers and scores of former big leaguers, Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark officially welcomed the statue to its home on the Museum’s first floor. Located at the base of the Grand Staircase, the bronze likeness of Aaron – titled Keep Swinging – will welcome thousands of guests to the Museum each year.

“Hank was so proud to be a Hall of Fame member,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “I know that he would be equally as honored that this fantastic statue will now welcome all of our guests as they start their visit to baseball’s home. Hank’s approach, both on and off the field, was to keep swinging, which is why it is an appropriate title for this statue. That phrase guided his lifetime of accomplishments and his incredible impact on our game – and on American society.”

Made possible by Hall of Fame supporters Jane and Bob Crotty and with the guidance and support of Aaron’s family, the statue pays homage to a player whose excellence on the field was matched only by his dignity and character. Created by sculptor William Behrends, the artwork depicts Aaron holding a bat in his right hand and wearing his Braves uniform. The inscription, which is a quote from Aaron, reads:

“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.”

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982 following a 23-year big league career with the Braves and Brewers, Aaron launched his 715th career home run on April 8, 1974, to surpass Babe Ruth atop Major League Baseball’s home run list. A 25-time All-Star, Aaron still holds the record for most career RBI and total bases.

Remarkably, if each of his 755 career home runs were erased from his playing record, Aaron would still have totaled more than 3,000 hits.

“I am thankful, honored and humbled to be part of making this tribute to Hank Aaron a reality,” Bob Crotty said. “Hank’s legacy will continue to connect generations and I am grateful to have my grandson Gavin here to witness this moment with me. Like Hank did, we should all make sure that whatever we do is for the good and does good. Whatever your endeavor, be passionate, tenacious and never give up. We all need to ‘keep swinging’.”

In 2009, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum dedicated Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, a third-floor exhibit that tells the story of a player who helped knock down the walls of segregation while thrilling generations of fans with his unrelenting consistency and class. The exhibit features dozens of artifacts, including bats and balls from record-setting hits, his locker and the uniform shirt, pants, cap and helmet worn while he hit the record-breaking 715th homer.

In 2010, Aaron pledged his entire personal collection to the Museum – and many artifacts are now on loan, including to the Atlanta History Center’s new exhibit and the Atlanta Braves.

The statue dedication was part of a historic weekend celebrating the history of Black baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s groundbreaking new exhibit The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball. Hall of Famers on hand for Thursday's celebration included Harold Baines, Rollie Fingers, Pat Gillick, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Kaat, Fred McGriff, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Ryne Sandberg, Bud Selig, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith, Joe Torre and Dave Winfield.

Located on the Museum’s second floor in the Yawkey Gallery, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball covers stories of early Black baseball, the Negro Leagues era, the complexities of reintegration, Jackie Robinson, post-reintegration progress and retrogress, and calls for change in today’s game while celebrating the newest superstars of the era. Meaningful stories from Black baseball are also being added to other exhibits throughout the Museum.

The exhibit is part of the Hall of Fame’s Black Baseball Initiative that includes additional outreach programs, educational materials and virtual programming and is made possible by the Yawkey Foundation with additional support from Bill Janetschek in honor of his siblings Robert and Ann, the Anthony A. Yoseloff Foundation and the Bisignano Family. The initiative will also enhance Black Baseball stories found throughout the Museum.

The Souls of the Game, a title that pays tribute to W.E.B. Du Bois’s seminal 1903 book “The Souls of Black Folk”, will explore the Black baseball experience of those men, women and children who were and are an integral part of our National Pastime.

Subtitled “Voices of Black Baseball”, the exhibit will highlight first-person accounts by the many individuals whose experiences shaped them, their community, baseball and America at large. Featuring historically significant artifacts, documents and photographs, and utilizing audio, video, and interactive elements, the exhibit will tell a more inclusive story of baseball, shine a light on and correct misconceptions about Black baseball.