Baseball legend Hank Aaron also owned a chain of Ga. auto dealerships

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Off the field, Aaron took on the role of entrepreneur as he opened 17 fast-food franchises and started Hank Aaron Automotive Group.

The Atlanta-based auto group consisted of BMW, Mini, Honda, Toyota, Jaguar and Land Rover franchises.

In 2004, he was named Auto Dealer of the Year by Black Enterprise, and his group ranked No. 15 on the magazine’s Auto Dealers list in 2006, with $136.7 million in revenue.

Aaron offered some advice to former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez as he embarked on his own automotive adventure, according to a 2004 article by Automotive News. He said: “You’ve got to put in some time with it. If you don’t, it’s not going to work.”

Aaron spent seven years as a car dealer before he retired in 2008. He sold off each of his stores to “enjoy the good graces that God has given him,” Allan Tanenbaum, Aaron’s business adviser, said in an interview with Black Enterprise.

The Atlanta Braves said in a statement: “Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the World. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 as an advocate for civil rights.

Whitney McDonald of Automotive News and Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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