A Sweet Swing and a Kind Heart
Remembering A Legend And A Legendary Opening Day
Editors’ note: Our own Adam DeCock first wrote this as a Facebook post shortly after Hank Aaron’s death in January 2021. We were very moved by this memory, and are grateful that Adam let us share it with you in conjunction with Opening Day in Milwaukee. The article he wrote based on his interview with Hank Aaron ran in the 2014 Atlanta Braves Souvenir Program – Issue 1. It is attached.
One of my first projects as Publications Trainee for the Braves in 2014 was writing an article for the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974… though I wasn’t expecting a one-on-one interview to be part of the project. As I walked across the office without knowing how to kick off what turned out to be one of the coolest experiences of my life, I kept thinking of ways to introduce myself and naturally start the interview. I sat down in his office overlooking Turner Field, more nervous than ever. However, his calm presence immediately settled my nerves, as I was about to embark on one of the most memorable conversations in my life.
I introduced myself, and mentioned I am from Wisconsin and was recently living in Milwaukee as a Marquette student. I shared appreciation for his commencement speech at Marquette in 2012. His eyes lit up when I mentioned Milwaukee, and what I was expecting to be a 5- to 10-minute interview about what baseball and his 715th home run meant to him was on pause. We spoke about baseball, Milwaukee, and life in general for more than 20 minutes. At one point I acknowledged appreciation for the conversation but wanted to get on track as to not take too much of his time. But he told me he’d rather keep talking about life and Milwaukee.
At one point I acknowledged appreciation for the conversation but wanted to get on track as to not take too much of his time. But he told me he’d rather keep talking about life and Milwaukee.
We eventually focused on baseball and the historical significance of his home run. But I took so much more from that conversation. He cared more about others than himself and was always modest in his success, recognizing team accomplishments over individual records or statistics. He was a very successful baseball player, but wanted to make a lasting impact beyond the field. He did way more than that.
I thought I was very lucky to have had him as a commencement speaker at my college graduation, but having a chance to sit down with him for more than 45 minutes is one of the most cherished experiences of my life.
Rest In Peace, Hank Aaron.
To read the full article, go here.