Rob Manfred, Chipper Jones among speakers at Hank Aaron memorial
Major League Baseball continues to mourn the loss of Hank Aaron, who passed away last week at the age of 86.
The Atlanta Braves on Tuesday held a memorial at Truist Park in honor of the franchise legend, and among the speakers at the event were MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, fellow Braves icon Chipper Jones and former Braves outfielder Marquis Grissom.
#For44 pic.twitter.com/qHarJrTDDM— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) January 26, 2021
“A Celebration of Henry Louis Aaron” was held in the ballpark’s Monument Garden, which is located in a concourse behind home plate where the Hall of Famer’s statue is located. The ceremony was held before a limited number of socially distanced crowd of mourners, including Aaron’s widow, Billye, along with other family members.
He never talked about himself, so today – we did it for him. #For44 pic.twitter.com/Qbu7YsU9rD— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) January 26, 2021
Several prominent names unable to attend — including including Baseball Hall of Famers John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, onetime Aaron teammate Dusty Baker and one-time Braves star Dale Murphy — sent video messages.
Manfred hailed Aaron as “humble” despite being an “agent of change in our society” for the unspeakable racism he endured while chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record and rising above it before ultimately becoming a longtime advocate for social and racial justice.
“The man we gather to remember today belongs on our sport’s Mount Rushmore,” Manfed said of Aaron, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He stood on and off the field above all others. While he made his name here in Atlanta and in Milwaukee, his loss has been felt across our great nation. Henry Aaron was a giant of a man. His accomplishments were quite literally the stuff of legends.
“There was so much more to Hank Aaron than his feats on the field. Hank Aaron was not just a great player; he was truly a great man. Hank Aaron carried himself with a sense of dignity. When you were around Hank, you could sense an aura of greatness, and people were naturally drawn to that aura.”
Jones, who developed a friendship with Aaron during his years with the Braves organization, succinctly summarized the icon in one sentence during his remarks.
“His swing, his smile, his spirit,” Jones said, per ESPN. “They were all beautiful.”
It was also announced at the ceremony that the Braves will make a $1 million donation to establish the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, which aspires to increase minority involvement in baseball from the player ranks up to front-office personnel.
The Braves are honored to announce the Henry Louis Aaron Fund to increase minority participation in baseball. #For44 pic.twitter.com/5VVSMu14c7— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) January 26, 2021
Major League Baseball, along with the MLBPA, will match the Braves’ donation by contributing $500,000 each to fund the Henry Louis Aaron Fund.
Aaron will be laid to rest in a private ceremony Wednesday at Atlanta’s South-View Cemetery, where civil rights leader John Lewis is also interred.