Longtime friend of Hank Aaron remembers him as ‘just a nice guy’

Local car salesman recalls working for baseball legend at Atlanta dealership

Legendary professional American baseball player Hank Aaron, who died died Friday at the age of 86, is also remembered for investing heavily during and after his athletic career.

Aaron bought a group of car dealerships, including a BMW dealership outside of Atlanta. In 2000, he hired Vietnam Navy veteran and longtime car salesman Robert Calhoun to work at that dealership.

Calhoun, now living in Metro Detroit, said he dropped his son off at college and drove over to the BMW dealership with his resume and awards to meet “Hammerin’ Hank.”

READ: Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

“I looked at your portfolio, it’s stunning,” Calhoun recalled Aaron saying to him. “Sid, don’t let him get out of here.”

Calhoun worked at the dealership for five years before Aaron sold the group. When sales people won awards, Aaron would sometimes autograph baseballs for the sales person -- and Calhoun received two of them.

READ: A look at Hank Aaron’s career and accomplishments

READ: Aaron lauded for grace amid racism during home run pursuit

For another sales award, Aaron would have his tailors make custom suits. Calhoun wore one of those suits Friday.

He recalled one conversation he had with Aaron.

“‘You treat me like I’m your son, sir. I’m very grateful,’ Calhoun recalled saying to Aaron. “As I’m walking across the showroom‚ (Aaron) put his arms around me and he said, ‘We’re grateful to have you.’ You have no idea how that made me feel.”

Calhoun said Aaron connected him to prominent people in Atlanta and recommended him for an article in Ebony Magazine that brought him significant local notoriety.

“He was just a nice guy. He was a nice gentleman. You would never know that he was who he was. Such a great guy, such an iconic national treasure. He did not carry himself that way,” he said.

Calhoun said he last spoke to Aaron on the legend’s birthday last year, and will cherish memories of the man with great humility who helped others understand what it takes to achieve excellence.

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