ATLANTA (AP) — Dozens of students dressed in blue excitedly welcomed Hank Aaron to their Atlanta college campus Wednesday as the school named a building for the baseball icon on his 86th birthday.
Atlanta Technical College christened the Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron Academic Complex for the former Atlanta Braves slugger. Aaron, a longtime supporter of the college, donates thousands of dollars to the school every year and his Chasing the Dream Foundation awards scholarships to several students.
People cheered when Aaron arrived for the ceremony where students, teachers and big baseball names honored him on his birthday. Even former President Bill Clinton sent a video message.
“I don’t feel like I’m 86, but I am 86,” Aaron said.
Known as the “Home Run King,” Aaron had 755 home runs over a career that spanned from 1954 to 1976 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Now, he serves many roles with the Braves, where he spent most of his playing career.
He also has lobbied for efforts to encourage more young African American athletes to choose baseball.
“I would like to see more blacks in baseball, and it’s just a matter of them going out and playing,” he said.
He said Major League Baseball can contribute by making more resources available.
“They can build more baseball fields. Number 1, they can have more baseball equipment; 2, they can teach coaches in them and learn how to play the game,” he said.