When it comes to Major League Baseball (MLB), the most devout fans of the sport seem to have just as much enjoyment collecting prized baseball cards as they do watch the game. The sport of baseball has inspired many young boys and girls to soak up the excitement of the game, whether as spectators or as participants. Of the countless number of young men who tried their hand to join the big leagues, only a select few managed to do so. The legendary Hank Williams was among those few. For Williams, his dream came true, and joined the ranks of legends before him, namely Babe Ruth, of not only becoming one of the best baseball players ever to grace the diamond but as a highly sought-after baseball card by fans and collectors.
About Hank Aaron
Born as Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, before becoming the infamous Hank Aaron from Major League Baseball, he and his equally infamous brother, Tommie Aaron, grew up with a family that was deep in poverty. Since his parents couldn't afford baseball equipment, Hank practiced batting against bottle caps with sticks. He created his own bats and balls from whatever material he could find on the streets. While growing up, his favorite baseball player was Jackie Robinson. When he was fifteen years old, Hank Aaron had his first tryout with Major League Baseball's (MLB) Brooklyn Dodgers. Even though he didn't make the team, he continued school to finish his education. During his junior year, while attending high school, Aaron joined the Negro League's Prichard Athletics. Later, he played for the Mobile Black Bears before he was discovered by baseball scout, Ed Scott. On November 20, 1951, Hank Aaron signed a contract with the Negro American League's Indianapolis Clowns. He played with the team for three months before receiving offers from the Boston Braves and the New York Giants, two teams from the MLB. Between the two offers, the Boston Braves offered fifty dollars more a month, which served as the deciding factor when he made his decision between the two teams.
According to the Howe Sports Bureau, Aaron had a .366 battering average in twenty-six Negro League games, along with five home runs, thirty-three runs batted in (RBIs), forty-one hits, and nine stolen bases. When The Braves purchased Aaron's contract from the Clowns for $10,000 USD, that was considered a steal as the team's GM, John Quinn, felt Aaron was worth ten times as much. First, the Boston Braves assigned Hank Aaron to the Eau Claire Bears, which was the official farm team in the Northern League Class-C division. The year was 1952 and it was one of the best baseball seasons for Hank Aaron as the impression he made during that time earned him the league's Most Valuable Player Award and a considerable amount of critical acclaim among sportscasters and writers. However, despite Hank Aaron's popularity, racial tensions and laws were still in place that made the earlier part of his baseball career more difficult than it should have been. With Hank Aaron among the first colored baseball players in the league and found himself on the receiving end of racial discrimination not by his teammates, but due to the Jim Crow Laws that were still in place among certain parts of the United States, especially in the south.
Proving, season after season until 1954 his finesse on the baseball field as one of the most impressive talents in the game, Hank Aaron's performance level saw him continue to promote higher in rank among the different farm teams hosted by the Boston Braves that would lead him to the Milwaukee Braves. When left fielder, Bobby Thomson fractured his ankle during a game on March 13, 1954, this served as Hank Aaron's big break. A month later, he made his major league debut when the Boston Braves played against the Cincinnati Reds and its left-handed pitcher, Joe Nuxhall. While Hank Aaron failed to hit the ball after five attempts his teammate, Eddie Mathews made two home runs, which became the first of a record 863 home runs these two players would hit as teammates. Two days after playing the Reds, Hank Aaron enjoyed his first major league hit against the St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher, Vic Raschi. Aaron's first home run came on April 23rd in another face-off against Raschi. For the next 122 games, Aaron batted a .280 average that saw thirteen home runs before suffering a fractured ankle on September 5. It would be during this time he would change his jersey number to 44, which became an ironic number for the player as he scored forty-four home runs in four different seasons. When he broke Babe Ruth's home run career record of 715, it was against the Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher, Al Downing, whose jersey number also happened to be 44. By the time Hank Aaron's career in the MLB was over, he had 755 career home runs as of July 20, 1976. It wasn't until 2007 before Barry Bonds broke that record while the second half of his career was with the San Fransisco Giants.
Hank Aaron Baseball Cards
When a baseball player's name can be breathed in the same sentence as Babe Ruth when it comes to record-breaking and record-holding career home run hitters, Hank Aaron rightfully deserves to find it every bit as covetous a baseball card as the original icon himself. The Boston Braves, who later became the Atlanta Braves, saw in Hank Williams star quality level, whose talent not only met but exceeded even their own expectations. As far as baseball card collections go, getting one that has a decent quality grade to it that has Hank Aaron's name on it is not likely going to come cheap. There are five in particular where the price tag was so high that they've become record-breakers themselves. The one that stands out the most is the Topps 1954 #128 Hank Aaron, which may not be the rarest or most valuable baseball card out there, it is one of the most recognized sports cards ever and is symbolic of a card collecting hobby.
5. 1954 Topps #128 Hank Aaron Rookie Card – PSA MINT 9 ($209,100)
On the Goldin Auctions website, a PSA Mint 9 1954 Topps $128 Hank Aaron Rookie card sold for $209,100 USD when its August Goldin Elite 2020 session-two auction came to a close. There were a total of sixteen bidders who competed against each other after the bidding began at $50,000 USD.
4. 1954 Topps #128 Henry Aaron PSA 9 MINT ($223,443.68)
With the Mile High Card Company Auction, the 1954 Topps #128 Henry Aaron PSA 9 MINT- A Recently Graded Fresh To The Hobby Stunner baseball card went to the successful bidder at $223,443.68 USD as of May 14, 2020, when the time limit to bid on the card passed.
3. 1954 Topps, Hank Aaron Rookie Card ($357, 594)
According to Just Collect, this PSA 10 copy was sold at a 2012 SCP Auction for $357,594 USD.
2. 1954 Topps #128 Henry Aaron Rookie Card – PSA MINT 9 ($430,500)
According to PSA's report, at Goldin Auctions, this Henry "Hank" Aaron Rookie Card reached the highest bidding price of $430,500 USD in May 2021 during its Golden Elite auction that ended on Sunday, May 23, 2021. The bidding round began at $100,000 USD among eighteen bidders where the weekend-long auction commenced until the final bid was made and accepted.
1. #128 Hank (Henry) Aaron Rookie Card ($645,000)
The PSA Mint 9 copy of this Topps 1954 #128 Hank Aaron rookie card fetched $645,000 USD at a Heritage Auction that was held in February 2021. 1954 was not among the best years for baseball cards as Topps produced a poor lineup of baseball cards that did not share the same quality level the brand is usually known for. There were errors and package staining on the cards. Of the 3,600 Hank Aaron rookie cards graded by the PSA, only twenty-three of them were found to be in mint condition or better. These are the only Hank Aaron rookie baseball cards that are recognized and why they're so valuable.
Written by Dana Hanson
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