In the wake of the death of baseball icon Hank Aaron, an unlikely suspect shared a connection with "Hammerin' Hank" that inspired one of the most famous names in rap music.
MC Hammer (formerly known as Stanley Burrell) was a batboy for the Athletics as a child. According to Hammer, former Brewers second baseman Pedro Garcia saw the young Burrell and thought he looked markedly like the then-40-year-old Aaron (for the record, he wasn't wrong).
According to Hammer, Garcia decided that from then on, Burrell was to be known as "Little Hammer" after Aaron's nickname. A's great Reggie Jackson liked the name too, and according to Hammer, Jackson was the one who coined it.
Apparently, it stuck because once the young Burrell entered into the music industry, he decided he would forever be known as "MC Hammer."
The three-time Grammy-winning rapper from Oakland shared a touching tribute of Aaron after Friday's news of his death, saying that the slugger's embrace of a kid from East Oakland "changed his life."
Several figures around MLB and the sports world took joined Hammer in honoring the former home run king online.
More Hank Aaron Stories From the SI Vault and SI.com:
• At 23, Hank Aaron Is Already the League's Best Right-Handed Hitter - Roy Terrell, 1957
• Henry Raps One for History: Aaron Collects Hit No. 3,000 - William Leggett, 1970
• Henry Aaron Gracefully Endured the Pressure of the Chase for 715 - Ron Fimrite, 1974
• Despite Losing the Home Run Record, Hank Aaron Will Always Be "The People's King" - Tom Verducci, 2007
• Where Are They Now: The People Behind Hank Aaron's Record 715th Home Run - Stephanie Apstein, 2014
• Hank Aaron Transcended Baseball Like Few Ever Have—or Will - Tom Verducci, 2021