On April 8, 1974, Henry Aaron hit the 715 home run of his career to become the all time home run leader. He broke the record of 714 home runs held by Babe Ruth. Ruth had been the all time home run champion for over fifty years.
Aaron came into the season with 713 home runs, after a long off season of hate letters and death threats by people who didn’t want him to break Ruth’s record.
Aaron started the season in Cincinnati hitting 714 off Jack Billingham.
April 8 was opening night in Atlanta against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was televised on NBC. But because of the rules of Major League Baseball at the time, it was blacked out in the Los Angeles and Atlanta areas.
In those years, the only cable television that was available was in the country’s smaller markets, so there were no cable networks. So, there were only three commercial networks, and a large audience across the country was watching.
Over 53,000 fans were in attendance at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium.
The game was covered by four hall of fame broadcasters, Curt Gowdy (NBC), Tony Kubek (NBC), Milo Hamilton (Braves), and Vin Scully (Dodgers). Although Gowdy called the home run NBC, it was Hamilton’s call that was used by the network when the home run has been replayed through the years. Hamilton was the primary play by play voice of the Braves from 1966, when the Braves moved to Atlanta, through 1975.
Aaron hit the home run off of pitcher Al Downing to left field. Everyone watching was thrilled by the excitement of the moment.
Of course, Barry Bonds passed Aaron in 2007, but unlike Bonds no one questioned the legitimacy of Aaron’s accomplishment. And he accomplished it in an era when the pitchers had dominated the game. And it came at a time when the nation was paying close attention. It was mentioned on the network newscasts the next day.
Henry Aaron is the greatest all around hitter of all time. He went on to hit 755 home runs, second all time. He has 3,771 hits, third all time. He’s the all time rbi leader at 2,297. His 1477 extra base hits all time.
Henry Aaron’s 715 home run should always be remembered because Henry Aaron should always be remembered.