March 13 in baseball history: Aaron catches a "break"

Current star out, future star in

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA | MARCH 13, 1954 - A nasty break for a veteran opened the door for a future superstar on this date in 1954. In an exhibition game against the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Braves outfielder Bobby Thomson was trying to beat a throw to second base. The former New York Giant slid awkwardly and broke his ankle in three places. Thomson would be out of the lineup until July.

Put into the lineup was a skinny, 20-year old kid from Mobile, Alabama by the name of Henry Louis Aaron. He would be a regular in the Braves outfield for the next 21 years (He played 2 more years for the Milwaukee Brewers).

With Thomson's injury many thought the Braves were out of the 1954 pennant race before the season started. Sportswriter Henry McCormick wrote, "With him [Thomson] may go the Braves' hopes of staying in the thick of the pennant fight." But the Braves stayed in the ‘54 race almost until the end. They were only four games out on September 15th, finishing 8 games out in third place, 89-65. Aaron played 122 games, hit .280 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI.

Hammerin Hank would become the all-time home run king in 1974. He finished his career with 755 HR's, wearing the crown until 2007 when Barry Bonds set a new record. Aaron remains (as of this date) the all-time RBI leader (2,297), and he was voted to 25 all-star games (they used to play two each season).

Contributing sources:
Bobby Thomson
Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wisconsin, by Henry McCormick, March 14, 1954
1954 NL pennant race

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