Legendary Hank Aaron Passes Away; How He Changed WCW

We're sad to reveal that baseball legend and once-home run king Henry "Hank" Aaron has died just weeks shy of his 87th birthday.

Aaron is best known for his historic, hall of fame career that saw him named to 25 all-star teams -- more than the number of years he actually played. He ended his career with 755 home runs, a record that stood for over 25 years. He's still the all-time MLB leader in runs batted in. 

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Aaron spent almost a decade of his playing career in Atlanta, and specifically 21 years with the Braves (they formerly were located in Milwaukee) which helped him develop a relationship with Turner Broadcasting. This would have huge implications for World Championship Wrestling.

As mentioned, Aaron was ingrained with Turner sports. He'd be interviewed by Bobby Heenan and Tony Schiavone at Bash at the Beach 1994, and appeared at Sting's Battle Bowl ceremony at Starrcade 1992. He may have also helped usher out the era of Bill Watts.

In 1992, Bill Watts became Executive Vice President of WCW, and was tasked with turning the company around. What resulted were controversial rule changes and adjustments, and the emergence of even more controversial comments from a 1991 PWTorch interview. 

Watts said the following:

"If you want a business and you put money in, why shouldn't you be able to discriminate? It's your business.

If free enterprise is going to make or break it, you should be able to discriminate? It should be that, by God, if you're going to open your doors in America, you can discriminate. Why the fuck not?

That's why I went into business, so that I could discriminate. I mean, really. I mean I want to be able to serve who I want to. It's my business. It's my investment ... I can't tell a f*g to get the fuck out. I should have the right to not associate with a f*g if I don't want to. I mean, why should I have to hire a fuckin' f*g, if I don't like f*gs? F*gs discriminate against us, don't they? Sure they do ... Do blacks discriminate against whites?

Who's killed more blacks than anyone? The fuckin' blacks. But they want to blame that bullshit Roots that came on the air. That Roots was so bullshit. All you have to do if you want slaves is to hand beads to the chiefs and they gave you slaves. What is the best thing that has ever happened to the black race? That they were brought to this country. No matter how they got here. You know why? Because they intermarried and got educated. They're the ones running the black race.

You go down to the black countries and they're all broke. Idi Amin killed more blacks than we ever killed. You see what I mean. That's how stupid we are. But we get all caught up in this bullshit rhetoric, And so, it's ridiculous what's happening to our country.

Lester Maddox was right. If I don't want to sell fried chicken to blacks I shouldn't have to. It's my restaurant. Hell, at least I respect him for his stand."

Needless to say, this didn't resonate well when Mark Madden brought the interview to Hank Aaron's attention. Aaron had appeared on WCW programming at the time with Watts, and was faxed a copy of the interview to the then-Turner executive Aaron. "Hammerin' Hank" publicly disavowed the comments, and allegedly pushed for Watts to be canned.

Watts claims that he'd already quit by the time the controversy landed due to differences with Bill Shaw, but we'll chalk this up as home run number 756 by one of the best to ever do it.

We extend our condolences to the friends, family and fans of Henry Aaron, and thank him for the memories and moments he provided, as well as the ones he may have prevented from happening in WCW.

You can hear some great coverage by Jason Solomon on the situation below.

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