30 Inspirational Hank Aaron Quotes About Breaking Boundaries

A legend on and off the field.

Hank Aaron Joe Seer / Shutterstock

Hank Aaron, one of the most prominent baseball players in sports history, who managed to smash Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record who was also known for his longtime advocacy for civil rights, passed away on Jan. 22 at 86, by confirmation of the Atlanta Braves.

Aaron started his career in 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves before the franchise moved to Atlanta for the 1966 season, which was where Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record by hitting his 715th home run in 1974.


As a Black man who was actively threatening to put his name above Ruth, Aaron faced a plethora of hate mail and threats, enough so that his family had to be protected by the FBI. 

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He not only played phenomenally on the field, but was also a voice for civil rights. Aaron often talked about his own life story – from being born in the poor South to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom – to discuss overcoming racial equality.

Hank Aaron’s legacy of strength has been a resounding mantra for many Black households across America, and he will forever be remembered for his constant resilience to make a name for himself in a world of white.

Here are the most inspirational Hank Aaron quotes about breaking boundaries and fighting for what we believe in:

1. “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

Hank Aaron quote


2. “In playing ball, and in life, a person occasionally gets the opportunity to do something great. When that time comes, only two things matter: being prepared to seize the moment and having the courage to take your best swing.”

3. “I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you're inferior, it makes you wonder if the other guys have something you've never seen before. If they do, I'm still looking for it.”

4. “Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.”


5. “You can only milk a cow so long, then you're left holding the pail.”

6. “I never smile when I have a bat in my hands. That's when you've got to be serious. When I get out on the field, nothing's a joke to me. I don't feel like I should walk around with a smile on my face.”

7. “The thing I like about baseball is that it's one-on-one. You stand up there alone, and if you make a mistake, it's your mistake. If you hit a home run, it's your home run.”

8. “There is no logical reason why girls shouldn't play baseball. It's not all that tough.”

9. “On the field, Blacks have been able to be supergiants. But, once our playing days are over, this is the end of it and we go back to the back of the bus again.” 

10. “I think about how a guy mentally prepared himself to do battle, to go out and face the pitcher. I think so many hitters do not know how to get themselves prepared to play or hit against a pitcher. You have to mentally be prepared to hit against all pitchers.”

11. “I had just turned 20, and Jackie told me the only way to be successful at anything was to go out and do it. He said baseball was a game you played every day, not once a week.”

12. “There wasn't much white people would allow us to do in those days. You could be a schoolteacher or an athlete to get away from the manual labor and servant-type jobs, but there wasn't much else they were going to allow you to do.”

13. “I tell young people — including my granddaughter — there is no shortcut in life. You have to take it one step at a time and work hard. And you have to give back.”

14. “I'm hoping someday that some kid, black or white, will hit more home runs than myself. Whoever it is, I'd be pulling for him.”

15. “I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them.”

16. “Some people resented the fact I was trying to break a white man's record.”

Hank Aaron quote

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17. “Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.”

18. “There's only one way to break the color line. Be good. I mean, play good. Play so good that they can't remember what color you were before the season started.”

19. “People were not ready to accept me as a baseball player. The easiest part of that whole thing, chasing the Babe's record, was playing the game itself. The hardest thing was after the game was over, dealing with the press. They could never understand.”

20. “I am very proud to be an American. This country has so much potential, I'd just like to see things better, or whatever, and I think it will be.”

21. “Too bad integration didn't come sooner, because there were so many ball players that could have made the major leagues. That's why, you look back, and — not to take away anything from Babe Ruth or some of those other guys — they didn't play against the greatest ball players in the world.”

22. “I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them.”

23. “We are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself … The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

24. “Most of all, I pray that no one ever again, in any walk of life, has to go through what I did.”

25. “Baseball needs me because it needs somebody to stir the pot, and I need it because it's my life. It's the means I have to make a little difference in the world.”

Hank Aaron quote


26. “I was being thrown to the wolves. Even though I did something great, nobody wanted to be a part of it. I was so isolated. I couldn't share it. For many years, even after Jackie Robinson, baseball was so segregated, really. You just didn't expect us to have a chance to do anything. Baseball was meant for the lily-white.”

27. “When I was a young kid growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I chased a dream and found it and played baseball for 23 years. I see these young kids coming along now and they are chasing their dreams. It just so happens that their dream costs a little bit more than mine did. I'm hoping they catch it and that they're able to do the things they want to do in life.”

28. “You know what the hardest thing is? What nobody wants to understand -- is me. People want their memories of me to be my memories of me. But you know what? They're not.”

29. “No matter what happens the rest of my life, I don't think I'll ever hit another home run. So wherever people want to rank me is fine.”

30. “You may not think you're going to make it. You may want to quit. But if you keep your eye on the ball, you can accomplish anything.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.