“When he came onto the field you noticed,” Singleton said. “there was a regal feeling about him. If you just turned on the TV and saw someone rounding the bases after a home run, you would know it was him. He just went around like it was another day at the park, and for him, it really was.”
Singleton marveled at how seldom Aaron struck out — always fewer than 100 times in a season. From his perch in the outfield, Singleton used to study the swings of right-handed batters and he said Aaron’s bat speed was different, even toward the end of his career.
“The last six inches of his swing were just a blur,” he said. “I never saw that from anyone else.”
After he retired, Aaron returned to the Braves to become their farm director and later worked for the team in many capacities. He still had an office at the stadium and worked out in the training room.
“He basically is the Braves,” said Derek Schiller, the president and chief executive of the club. He added, “I know there are a lot of guys who wore the uniform, but none like Hank.”
Chipper Jones, the Braves Hall of Fame third baseman, called Aaron a mentor and said that many of Jones’s contemporaries, including superstars, would ask him to introduce them to Aaron. But despite their reverence, they did not fully appreciate Aaron’s unique place in baseball lore.
“No, they don’t know how good a baseball player he was, “Jones said. “He played for the Galactic All-Stars. We were just mere earthlings.”
Tyler Kepner and Alan Blinder contributed reporting.