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“Always with class and grace” Braves remember Hank Aaron in memorial service at Truist Park

Some of the biggest names in baseball gathered Tuesday at Truist Park to honor a legend who stood tall above the rest.

It was the first of two services held this week for the Braves and baseball legend Hank Aaron, who died Friday at age 86.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, Braves manager Brian Snitker, former Braves outfielder Marquis Grissom and Braves Hall of Famer Chipper Jones spoke in person during the service.

There were also video tributes from Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Dale Murphy, Dusty Baker, Freddie Freeman and Bob Kendrick from Negro League Baseball Museum.

If you missed Tuesday’s service, you can watch the speeches below. You can also watch Wednesday’s service from Friendship Baptist Church on Channel 2 starting at 1 p.m.

Chipper Jones

Braves legend and Hall of Famer Chipper Jones recalls the night the Braves drafted him and how Aaron vouched for him.

“‘Y’all better draft that Jones boy.’ I’ll never forget that. That comment must carry some weight,” he said. “I respected the man so much. I wouldn’t want to disappoint him or his family.”

Jones said the best way to get Hank to talk was to ask him about hitting. Jones said Aaron would light up about the topic.

“He said ‘Chipper. I fear no man when I have a bat in my hand,’” Jones said.

The Braves Hall of Famer ended his speech with the one word he would use to describe his idol and mentor.

“I’ve been asked many times in the last few days to describe Henry Aaron in one word,” he said. “Without hesitation that one word is simply: Beautiful. The swing, the smile, and the spirit. All beautiful.”

Brian Snitker

Braves manager Brian Snitker becomes emotional as he begins to share his favorite memories of Hank Aaron.

Snitker joined the Braves in the late 70s and developed a 40-year friendship with Aaron.

“He gave me a chance to manage in the Braves organization,” Snitker said. “That’s how I got to see him for the person he was, got to know him and work with him. None of us ever felt like we were working for Hank, always with him.

“Hank epitomized what being an Atlanta Brave is. How he lived his life both on and off the field. Always with class and grace,” Snitker said.

“I’ll miss the friend and the mentor that I had in my life. Hank, your legacy on and off the field will live forever.”

Tom Glavine and John Smoltz

Braves Hall of Fame pitchers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz could not be in attendance but recorded video messages.

“We’ve all seen the movie Field of Dreams,” Glavine said. “If there is a baseball team in heaven, they just picked up a heck of a clean-up hitter.”

Freddie Freeman, Dusty Baker, Dale Murphy and Marquis Grissom

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred reflected on the loss of 10 Baseball Hall of Fame players the sport has lost in the past year. Manfred said Aaron belongs on baseball’s Mount Rushmore.

“Just like Jackie Robinson was the perfect person the change our game forever, Hank Aaron was the perfect person to meet the historic moment he created in 1974,” he said.

Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Manfred announced at the end of the service the creation of the Henry Louis Aaron Fund. The Braves and MLB each donated $1 million to start the fund, which is aimed at increasing minority participation in baseball.

Donations can be made on the Braves website.

Braves opera singer Timothy Miller, known for his performances during the 7th inning, delivers a rendition of “Amazing Grace” for the Aaron family.

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