BALTIMORE (CBS NEWS/WJZ) — Baseball legend Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record, has died, the Atlanta Braves announced Friday. He was 86.

In a statement, the Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. A cause of death wasn’t provided.

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The Baltimore Orioles released the following statement:

“Our great game will forever be indebted to Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, an American hero who served as a champion for civil rights and an exemplary ambassador for Major League Baseball throughout his Hall of Fame career and his entire life. The Orioles join the entire baseball community in mourning his passing, and offer our deepest condolences to his family and many supporters,” the Orioles said.

Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome said Aaron was a hero to his family.

“Growing up in rural Alabama, the Atlanta Braves would be on the radio every night, and my father, grandfather and I would listen religiously,” Newsome said. “Hank has always been a hero to them and to me.”

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“I’m saddened to learn of Hank’s passing. He was a giant in our game and inspired so many on and off the field. What he endured and how he persevered to surpass the all-time HR record, thought to be unbreakable, was remarkable. My thoughts are with his family and Braves fans,” Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. tweeted.

“Baseball loses their best modern-day player. A 5 tool player that overcame racism to live his life on and off the field with class, the pursuit of excellence, and above all, humility,” Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said.

 

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Aaron broke the Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs in 1974 with a shot to the left-field bullpen at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.