ATLANTA — Hank Aaron‘s imprint is firmly stamped on the World Series.
His No. 44 has been painted on the grass in center field at the Braves’ Truist Park all season. It remained in big, bold green for Friday night’s Game 3 against the Houston Astros.
The impact of Aaron, the Hall of Famer who died on Jan. 22, is seen in much more than the number.
“Hank’s footprints are all over this series,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said.
The Braves honored Aaron before the game, playing a video tribute to The Hammer. Aaron’s family, including his wife, Billye, was on the field for the ceremony. His son, Hank Jr., got a hug from Baker on the mound and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Braves star Freddie Freeman.
If not for Aaron, it’s possible neither Baker nor Atlanta manager Brian Snitker would hold their current jobs.
“I would assume he helped mold both of us, Dusty as a young player and me as a young manager/coach,” Snitker said Thursday. “He was very instrumental, I know, in both our careers because I know both of us just loved the man to death for what he did for us.”
Aaron was responsible for convincing Baker to sign with the Braves as a teenage outfielder in 1967. Aaron, already an established star, promised Baker’s mother he would take care of her young son.
Aaron kept the promise — and kept up with Baker’s mom, even after Baker’s playing career ended.