Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron Gets Honorary Degree

Hank "The Hammer" Aaron, the former home run record-holder was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Princeton University last Tuesday for "making America a better place" with his "imperishable example of grace under pressure."

That grace under pressure was described eloquently in Aaron's book titled Hank Aaron, a biography, where author Charlie Vascellaro writes that Aaron:

"... was forced to endure indignites that their white teammates would observe but never experience. In addition to verbal baiting and taunting from fans (gee, they still do that even in 2011), opposing players and even teammates, Black players were also subject to racism and segregation in many forms.

Those "forms", the writer goes on to write, included staying in separate hotels eating at separate restaurants, using separate forms of transportation, drinking form separate water fountains, and using separate bathrooms - away from his teammates.

Despite enduring all the racism set upon him by white Americans he would go on to set the MLB record for most career home runs (755), a record he held for 33 years before it was broken by San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds on August 7, 2007 amid acusations of steroid use.

Recalling his youth, Aaron said he would spend hours hitting a ball with a stick or throwing it on the roof of his house. "I was so good I could run around and catch it before it hit the ground on the other side."

Aaron started his Major League Baseball career in 1954. He played 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the National League, and his last two years (1975–76) with the Milwaukee Brewers in the American League.

During his 66th birthday celebration that saw the likes of Sammy Sosa, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, and Reggie Jackson in 1999, the MLB announced the creation of The Hank Aaron Award.

Others given honorary Princeton degrees during Tuesday's ceremony along with Aaron included dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison, legal expert Robert Rawson Jr., children's advocate Geoffrey Canada, University of California-San Francisco chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, and former Princeton history professor Charles Gillispie.

OtherSee Aaron congratulate Bonds.