Aaron ended the 1973 season only one home run short of Ruth’s record and spent a long winter during whch he received many pieces of racist hate mail and death threats. In fact, Aaron was legitimately concerned that he might not live to see the 1974 season. The Braves started the 1974 season on the road in Cincinnati and Aaron hit his record tying 714th home run in his first at bat of the season. He wouldn’t hit another homer during the three game series against the Cincinatti Reds.
When the Braves returned home to Atlanta, their first home game was a must-see event. The April 8, 1974 game was broadcast nationwide by NBC and 53,775 fans paced Atlanta Stadium in the hopes of witnessing history. In the fourth inning Aaron hit a long home run off of Dodgers pitcher Al Downing and the crowd went wild.
As the Braves were hosting the Dodgers, legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was on hand to call the game and perfectly summarized the historical importance of the event:
“What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”
Aaron retired from baseball in 1976, finishing his career with 755 home runs. He’d hold on to the all time home run record until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007. The current career home run record, still held by Bonds, is 762.
As Hank Aaron’s nickname was “Hammerin’ Hank” let’s mix a Velvet Hammer. It’s a sweet and smooth cocktail that’s a tropical relative of the White Russian.
- 2 ounces Cointreau
- 2 ounces Tia Maria coffee liqueur
- 2 ounces half and half
Pour all ingredients into an ice filled highball glass.
Tomorrow: A plane named for a “divine wind.”