The power and lasting impact of Hank Aaron's 44

The power and lasting impact of Hank Aaron's 44

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Image: Getty Images

Hank Aaron made the number 44 cool for power hitters in the MLB. There are a handful of greats that have donned the number in his wake, carrying the tradition forward, and they have done so for decades.

In the NBA you’ve got notables like Jerry West, Pete Maravich and George Gervin.

But it was of course in baseball where you’ll find Hank’s 44 disciples

Other than the late Hammerin’ Hank, who else has worn the 44?

Let’s take a look:

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Willie McCovey

Willie McCovey

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Image: AP

The legendary San Francisco Giant and Hall of Famer, also known as Stretch, made his Major League debut in 1959, two years after Hank Aaron won an MVP with a .322 average, 44 home runs and 132 RBIs. McCovey took a similar early career path to Aaron’s. While Hank made a major step in his fourth season, it was in McCovey’s fifth year that he ascended to one of the most feared hitters in baseball. McCovey’s 1963 season saw him tally 44 home runs with 102 RBIs. McCovey would retire after a 22-year career with 521 home runs, tying him with Ted Williams.

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Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson

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“Mr. October” only had two seasons with over 40 four-baggers, but he also went 10 straight seasons with no fewer than 25, and topped 30 bombas seven times. He finished his illustrious career with 563 round-trippers. Even though he only spent five of his 21 seasons with the New York Yankees, his legendary postseason performances (three HRs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series) were enough to retire his iconic #44.

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Eric Davis

Eric Davis

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Davis did not amass the home run numbers of some others on this list, but the dual-threat offensive weapon could hit for power and was a nightmare on the basepaths. In 1987, the apex of Davis’ career, he batted .293 with 37 big flys, 100 RBIs, 120 runs scored, and 50 stolen bases. He missed 33 games to injury that season. Had he not missed time, it would have been the first season in MLB history that a batter hit 40 home runs and logged 40 swiped bags in a single season.

(Ed. note: For a hot second there when Davis was really killing it, his 1985 Topps card had kids of a certain age thinking they’d be sittin’ pretty in a few years. Like with most cards of that era ... welp. — Rich O’Malley)    

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Darryl Strawberry

Darryl Strawberry

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Image: AP

Strawberry began his career with the New York Mets in 1983 where he wore the number 18. It’s during his Mets career where Straw excelled, which included wining in a title in 1986. Over his eight seasons with the Mets and then his first season with the Dodgers, where he picked up the No. 44, Strawberry averaged 31 taters per season, with back-to-back seasons of 39.

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Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn

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Dunn, who came into the league in 2001 with the Cincinnati Reds, did one thing particularly well in his career – hit bombs. He racked up 462 dingers over 14 seasons. If you remove his last two injury-plagued season, Dunn would have averaged 42.8 round trips per season. Affectionately known as “The Big Donkey,” Dunn has not yet made the Hall of Fame, and the lack of a more well-rounded game will certainly keep him out. That said, he hit homers as well as anyone.

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Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt

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The veteran first-baseman, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks and now resides with the St. Louis Cardinals (where he sports N0. 46), has long been a potent and feared hitter. His first year with the Cardinals in 2019 was a clear dip from his prior production, but he experienced a return to form in the shortened 2020 season. Over the course of his career, Goldy has averaged 31 circuit clouts and 101 ribbies per season, with a career .293 average.

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Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo

Illustration for article titled The power and lasting impact of Hank Aaron's 44
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The current Chicago Cubs first-baseman has been a consistent and lethal batter. On a per-162 game average (which I guess we have to use for current baseball players because of the COVID-shortened 2020 season), Rizzo averages 29 moonshots per season. Rizzo also has a career .271 average and has averaged 96 RBI per-162.

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