Baseball legend Hank Aaron visits Duke for naming of summer research program

Friday, April 13, 2018
The Chronicle

There is no shortage of big names who have left a mark on Duke, and Thursday night, one of baseball's all-time greats added himself to the list.

Hank Aaron and his wife Billye visited the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke for the official naming of the Hank and Billye Suber Aaron Young Scholars Summer Research Program, sponsored by the University's Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. The program—which has existed for three summers—gives students in eighth through 11th grade in Durham Public Schools the chance to learn from high-quality teachers and professors and do original research on social inequalities.

"I think about all the good things that happened to me in the 23 years that I had the chance to play baseball and the people that stood behind me, and my mother always told me that you've gone no place until you help your fellow man," Hank Aaron said. "I am so thrilled to have all these young people, not only standing behind me, but all over the world, that you can help direct them and have them going in the direction that you think is good for the country."

In a Hall of Fame career playing mostly for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, Aaron hit 755 home runs, a career record that stood until Barry Bonds surpassed him in 2007. After his retirement, Aaron became the director of player development and vice president of the Braves, which first linked him to Durham.

Before the Tampa Bay Rays joined the major leagues in 1998, the Durham Bulls were affiliated with the Braves, and Aaron often visited Durham to evaluate the young players in the organization for weeks at a time. During at least one of his visits, Mike Krzyzewski asked him to come to campus to talk to his men's basketball team.

"I used to come here and spend weeks and weeks here running through the school, trying to keep myself in halfway decent shape," Aaron said. "I just remember when I came here two or three times to run through the school, I got a chance to meet him, and he is quite a coach, not just because of the things they do on the basketball field but simply because of the way he carries himself."

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