Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins announced this past weekend the Yellow Jackets football program will join the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United in temporarily retiring No. 44 in honor of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Hank Aaron, who passed away on Jan. 22 at the age of 86.
The Braves have already retired the number in Aaron’s honor in 1977, while the Atlanta Hawks haven’t used No. 44 since 2013, though it was officially retired in 2017 in honor of the late “Pistol” Pete Maravich. It will be retired by Georgia Tech for the entire 2021 season.
“For me personally and as a program that represents the great city of Atlanta, we are very saddened by the passing of Hank Aaron,” Collins said in a statement. “In addition to honoring ‘Hammerin’ Hank’s’ memory, we’ll use the coming days and months as an opportunity to educate our student-athletes on the immeasurable impact that he made in our society, not only on the field, but in the civil rights movement in America.”
A 25-time All-Star, World Series champion and Baseball Hall of Fame, Aaron still holds major league records for RBI (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477). He also ranks among the all-time leaders in home runs (755, second), hits (3,771, third), games played (3,298, third) and runs scored (2,174, fourth).
Georgia Tech linebacker Quez Jackson has worn No. 44 since his freshman season in 2018. He’ll have a different jersey number during his senior year, though.
The Yellow Jackets also paid tribute to Aaron by illuminating Bobby Dodd Stadium with blue lights on the day after his death. The LED lights, which were installed prior to the 2020 season, were turned on at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 and stayed on for 44 minutes.
Photos courtesy of @GeorgiaTechFB on Twitter.