The childhood home of former baseball home run king Hank Aaron will be donated to the city where he grew up and will become a museum operated by the city's minor-league team.
The home is expected to be moved in October next to "The Hank," or Hank Aaron Stadium, home of the Mobile BayBears. Aaron's family and team officials made the announcement Monday.
The three-bedroom home, which is currently boarded up, could open as a museum in late March. The city will own the house, but the team will handle the renovations and run the museum.
"This was our castle," the former Atlanta Braves slugger said Monday, seated with his brother and sister on the small porch of the house built by their father. "No matter where I've been, this will always be my home."
Aaron, now 74, grew up in Mobile's Toulminville neighborhood, about a block from a city park that now bears his name. He hit 755 home runs — a record that stood until it was broken last year by Barry Bonds. Aaron's late brother, Tommie — who played for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves — also grew up there.
The home is about five miles away from the stadium. A house-moving company has offered to move the house at no charge, team officials said.
Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said it has "tremendous" tourism potential and called Aaron an "ambassador for Mobile." Bill Shanahan, BayBears president, said he pitched the idea for the museum to Aaron over a year ago and won his support for the project.
Renovating his childhood home into a museum at the stadium will demonstrate to others his humble beginnings and that no matter what conditions they live in, Aaron said.
"You can make it by trying harder," he said.
The museum won't be solely devoted to his baseball career, Aaron said. Visitors to the home will learn of his parents' early days and how the Aaron family progressed.
His parents, Estella and Herbert Aaron, both deceased, had eight children and refused to move even when their famous "Hammerin' Hank" bought them another house in Mobile.
Aaron recalled his father bought two acres and struggled to build his home with salvaged boards and bricks while working in the port city's shipyards. Back then, the narrow road in front of the house was unpaved and had a big ditch out front, Aaron said at a news conference.
"Only three bedrooms, with eight kids," Aaron recalled. "I had to be humble. My mother insisted on my being that way."
Hall of Fame exhibits officials Ted Spencer, Mary Quinn and Erik Strohl toured the home Monday with Aaron, his brother and sister.
The three met with city and stadium officials on security and preservation of Aaron memorabilia that's expected to be replicated and shared with the museum by the baseball museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Spencer, the chief curator, said Aaron contacted the Hall of Fame about the project earlier this year. He said the house has "great potential" and the restoration will be fun.
"It's the first thing of this type we've done," Spencer said.