"Hammerin' Hank" left big impression on Alaska visit

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jan 23, 2021

Hank Aaron’s reach in the game of baseball stretched all the way to The Last Frontier.

 

He went to bat for the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska in 1996 when he came to Anchorage to kickstart fundraising for field and league development.

 

Aaron was a living legend, a longtime home run king and one of only five players in Major League Baseball history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

 

That fact that a famous Hall-of-Famer would come to Alaska showcased his true passion to promote the game in all corners of the world.

 

The memory of meeting ‘Hammerin' Hank’ doesn’t easily fade.

 

“He left a lasting impression on all of those fortunate to meet him during his stay,” said Alliance president Steve Nerland.

 

Sadly, Aaron passed away this week at age 86. The loss of a beloved baseball ambassador hit home for every baseball fan.

 

In 1996, Aaron played in a celebrity softball game at Mulcahy Stadium. He participated in a youth clinic and was the guest of honor during a meet and greet.

 

The event for the Alliance was helped organized by friend of Alaska American Legion Baseball and former MLB pitcher Wade Blasingame.

 

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In 1997, Ernie Banks of Chicago Cubs fame came to Anchorage. In 1998, Bob Gibson, the St. Louis Cardinals ace, visited. They all ventured north to assist the Alliance in developing baseball in Alaska.

 

Today the nonprofit Alliance is responsible for scheduling and coordinating 28 American Legion baseball teams from all parts of the state, including Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Fairbanks, North Pole, Juneau, Kodiak, Ketchikan, Kenai and Sitka.

 

The Alliance has also been involved in some form or fashion in construction of more than 15 baseball and softball fields over the last 12 years around the State – all of which are utilized by the youth of Alaska.

 

Aaron played a pivotal role in helping the Alliance get off the ground and in turn break ground to help expand and improve the game in Alaska.

 

“On this day we remember the all-time great Hank Aaron and honor him for all his accomplishment during his playing days and after,” Nerland said.