Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron New Beginnings Academy, formerly named Forrest Hill Academy, and the Atlanta Braves hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the renaming of the school on Wednesday, October 20.
The renaming of the school, the district’s alternative high school, pays homage and tribute to legendary Atlanta Brave Henry “Hank” Aaron, the National Baseball Hall of Famer who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. Aaron, who passed away in January, is honored throughout the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park with a statue in Monument Garden and a ‘44’ in the outfield. Following his passing, the Braves also founded the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, which furthers Aaron’s mission to increase access and opportunity in baseball
The school had previously been named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was active in the KKK.
Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama and nicknamed “Hammer” or “Hammerin’ Hank”, Aaron played right field for 23 seasons in the Major Leagues (1954 – 1976), 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the National League and two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League.
Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, breaking Ruth’s record of 714 that had stood for nearly 40 years. Aaron still holds the Major League Baseball (MLB) career records for runs batted in, total bases and extra-base hits. He hit 24 or more home runs every year from 1955 through 1973 and is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least fifteen times for a total of 755 career home runs. Aaron was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, the first year he was eligible.
During his time in MLB, and especially during his run for the home run record, Aaron and his family endured extensive racist threats. His experiences influenced him to become active in the civil rights movement.
Following his playing career, Aaron joined the Braves front office in 1976 as Vice-President and Director of Player Development. He most recently was a Senior Vice President, a role he held since December 1989. In 1988, Aaron was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1999, MLB introduced the Hank Aaron Award to recognize the top offensive players in each league. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and was named a 2010 Georgia Trustee by the Georgia Historical Society in recognition of accomplishments that reflect the ideals of Georgia’s founders.