On Saturday January 24, 2021 Henry “Hank the Hammer” Aaron Left us behind in his sleep, you see most people get their wings when they transition, but Hank has been flying for years. He flew above the critics and competition in the MLB, by showing up everyday, working harder than everyone around him and being consistent and great every at bat, game, series and season year after year.
Forty-Four years ago, I dreamed I would one day be as good as Hank Aaron the baseball player, but that never happen for me or anyone else. Remember he is by numbers not opinion, The “Greatest Of All Time” (GOAT). Forty-four months ago, I started coaching in a youth program in partnership with MLB and the Atlanta Braves. I teamed up with coach Julie Jones and with the Boys and Girl’s club. That start up was Atlanta RBI, four years later, the Boys & Girl ‘s club walked away from the older boy’s program to focus only on 13 and under. I put together two leagues 18 and up and 15 and up. I did not think about it twice before taking over. No risk no reward.
I was just trying to make a difference in young inner city boy’s lives who wanted to play the game of baseball at a high level. I recruited teams coached by Antonio & Marquis Grissom, Tyrone Newbern , Eric Wynn, Cliff Albright, Kim Brannan, Ernest Spikes, Eddie Bowden, Shawn Livsey, Errol Rogers, Coach Dumas, Coach Austin, Coach Wray. I did not know at the time, we would collectively create BLACK BASEBALL EXCELLENCE in Atlanta and see 27 kids go on to play professional baseball and over 175 go to college. We Created jobs in front MLB offices, Doctors, Lawyers, Financial Analyst , Engineers and more. Even with that we are still chasing the G. O. A. T.
The Hank and Billye Aaron Foundation is called “Chasing the Dream Foundation” and just like when he played, his dream started it in his heart from a place called love. The program is meant help 755 kids get an education through his foundation, but they have done so much more with consistency, hardwork and passion for people day in and day out. The foundation has developed classics musicians, educators, doctors, actors and just great young people over 1,000 kids. Doing it the right way, not bragging on FB or IG but quietly making a difference with class and dignity.
Well I’m passing the torch, it’s time for Marquis Grissom to take over RBI. I no longer run the program. I hope and pray he takes it to greater heights for kids that look like me and others that don’t. He is a good man and with the Braves help I’m confident he will. In closing, My brother and I talked about Mr Aaron’s impact on me and why it hurt me so deeply when he passed on. I watched a man who lived a beautiful life go home to his final resting place is a blessing, but I didn’t have an answer for my pain until now. As a kid I dreamed of being like a ball player who was the man and as a man I have tried to live a life striving to be like a man who was once a ball player.
The internal conflict is that Hank is that man both times. As a man I no longer want to be like Hank, although Hank was an amazing human being. I want to honor him by taking my program Atlanta Metro Inc Baseball and Softball and hopefully touch every kid with the game I love as positively as I can. For me to help them chase their dreams, but yet make sure they are chasing it from a solid academic foundation. I think that will honor Hank best (to see them live a beautiful Life). RIP my hero Hammering Hank.
the author is native of Atlanta, Georgia. He is an account executive for CBS television 46, and former President of 100 Black Men in DeKalb County, Georgia. Mr. Hollins wears many hat when it comes to young people in his zip code. The lives he has touched reads like a Who’s Who in Atlanta and not all of them are athletes. Last year CBS 46 honored him as a “Community Hero” and several weeks ago he pinched hit for Hammering Hank when Hank called in sick–John threw out the first pitch in the stadium being dedicated to his hero. https://www.facebook.com/100005314755131/videos/1500145726839238/