Aaron became one of baseball's best all-around players and defied racism in the face of hate mail and even death threats.
He was baseball's home run king, breaking Babe Ruth's record in 1974 and holding onto that record for more than three decades. The Dodgers were playing Aaron's Atlanta Braves when he hit his historic 715th home run, and former Dodgers announcer Vin Scully was there to call the memorable shot.
"What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world," Scully called.
"A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron, who was met at home plate, not only by every member of the Braves, but by his father and mother."
MORE: Baseball icon Hank Aaron dies at 86
Aaron circling the bases after the ball went over the fence is etched in baseball lore. More of the call can be heard here.
"Saddened to hear about Hank Aaron. He meant so much more to baseball and the country than just being one of the game's top home run hitters," Scully tweeted Friday. "He truly was a very special man."
Saddened to hear about Hank Aaron. He meant so much more to baseball and the country than just being one of the game's top home run hitters. He truly was a very special man.— Vin Scully (@TheVinScully) January 22, 2021
"It was a privilege to witness Hank Aaron's historic moment," Scully also tweeted.
Aaron is also a civil rights icon - his quiet activism inspired a new generation.
"He was such a unique individual and such a bearer of the torch in the game of baseball, especially in the Black community," said Erikk Aldridge, the founder and executive director of the Inglewood Baseball Fund, which was designed to better prepare young minority players for competitive baseball.
Every year, the organization takes some of the boys to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to see the area dedicated to Aaron.
"To be able to see these 12-year-old boys embrace that history and understand it, that's really powerful and I think that's what his legacy means," Aldrige said.