Home Run Derby participants to honor former home run king Henry Aaron, wear his No. 44

·2 min read

In the first home run derby since the former home run king's death, baseball is paying tribute to Henry "Hank" Aaron.

MLB announced that players participating in Monday's Home Run Derby will all wear No. 44 to honor the man who retired in 1976 with 755 home runs, a number that stood as America's most revered sports record until Barry Bonds surpassed him in 2007.

Aaron’s wife, Billye and other family members will be in attendance at Coors Field in Denver as all All-Star participants will also wear Aaron's No. 44 during Monday's workouts for Tuesday's All-Star game. Los Angeles Angels designated hitter and MLB home run leader Shohei Ohtani is the betting favorite to win Monday's derby.

Will anyone challenge Ohtani in Monday's derby?

Ohtani will be joined by New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, Oakland A's first baseman Matt Olson, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

ATLANTA, GA - CIRCA 1974: Outfielder Hank Aaron #44 of the Atlanta Braves swings and watches the flight of his ball circa 1974 during a Major League Baseball game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Aaron played for the Braves from 1954-74. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***Hank Aaron
The first Home Run Derby since Henry Aaron's death will pay tribute to the former home run king. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Aaron's legacy

Aaron died in January at 86 years old. He retired as baseball's all-time leader in RBIs (2,297) and total bases (6,856) and third in hits (3,771), records that still stand. His 755 home runs now rank second behind Bonds' 762.

A civil rights stalwart who was the target of racism as he approached Babe Ruth's home run total of 715 en route to his record, Aaron remained committed to social causes until his death on Jan. 22. One of his last public acts was to receive the COVID-19 vaccine alongside other civil rights leaders to promote its safety among hesitant Black Americans.

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