He was six years into his major league career and had played a major role in helping the Milwaukee Braves win back-to-back National League pennants. In 1959, Hank Aaron was on a very short list of the game’s most feared hitters.
Now, a newly uncovered photo captures him doing what he did best that season: hit a baseball. The 7×10 image was taken by a photographer at the Milwaukee Journal named Niels Lauritzen and has never been offered at auction before.
Taken August 2, during the second game of a home doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals at County Stadium, it shows the moment of Aaron’s bat meeting a ball tossed by Cardinals’ pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell. Hal Smith is the St. Louis catcher. The result was a single to center field for one of the 223 hits Aaron recorded that season.
One of 325 photos in RMY’s September auction, the back includes the newspaper clipping from the next day’s Journal, when the photo appeared in the sports section.
The Braves earned a split in the doubleheader that day, thanks in part to Aaron’s hitting and nine strong innings from Lew Burdette. When Journal readers woke up to this photo the next morning, just one game separated Milwaukee, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers with eight weeks left in the season.
The Braves failed to ‘three-peat’ but Aaron won the league batting title that year with a .355 average and led all NL batters in hits, slugging percentage and total bases (as well as numerous new age stats) while finishing among the leaders in doubles and RBI.
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