Advertisement

50 YEARS AGO: Hank Aaron hits HR No. 715 to break Babe Ruth’s record on April 8, 1974

“That ball is gonna be … outta here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron!”

With the swing of a bat and that call from Milo Hamilton on WSB Radio, Braves legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron put his name in the history books on April 8, 1974.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of Aaron’s record-breaking 715h home run to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time home run leaders list. Aaron crushed a fastball off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing in front of the home crowd of 53,775 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Sadly, Aaron died in 2021 a few weeks before the 47th anniversary of his crowning achievement. But, his legacy has lived on through his family, former teammates and the Braves organization.

The Braves will celebrate the Hall of Famer etching his name in the history with a new exhibit at the Atlanta History Center that opens this week. They will also hold a special presentation before Monday night’s game against the Mets.

Channel 2′s Karyn Greer sat down with Aaron’s wife Billye Aaron for the 50th anniversary. She walks us through what she remembers that night and what her late husband endured, on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4:00 p.m.

In the months and weeks leading up to No. 715, Aaron received countless racist letters and death threats.

“I thought that everybody hated me,” Aaron told retired Channel 2 anchor Jocelyn Dorsey in a People 2 People interview. “I got so many letters....the ones that I opened started off by being so hateful and spiteful.”

Aaron said it made him frightful of his surroundings and there were some road trips where he wouldn’t go out of the team hotel. He had meals delivered to his hotel room and security escorted him to and from the ballpark.

Aaron told Dorsey that he always looked to his mother and reflected on his mother words.

“She said, ‘Son, let me just say this. God gave you the ability to play baseball. I want you to play it well, all the time as you can possibly play. Whatever will be will be,’” Aaron said. “In spite of all the things I went through, I had to think about those words that she gave me. And it stuck with me.”

After Aaron broke the record, his mother Estella was one of the first people he greeted at home plate. Here are memorable photos from that historic night.

Aaron gets a hug from his mother Estella. His dad was there too.
Aaron gets a hug from his mother Estella. His dad was there too.
Aaron rounds the bases followed by two fans that ran on the field.
Aaron rounds the bases followed by two fans that ran on the field.
Aaron connects solidly.
Aaron connects solidly.
Aaron begins the swing.
Aaron begins the swing.
Teammates and family mob Aaron.
Teammates and family mob Aaron.
<p>Hank Aaron</p>

Hank Aaron

A statue outside Turner Field captures the swing.
A statue outside Turner Field captures the swing.
Braves players greet Aaron at home plate and Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson even extends his hand.
Braves players greet Aaron at home plate and Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson even extends his hand.
Aaron follows through.
Aaron follows through.
Hank Aaron, the umpire and the Dodgers catcher follow the flight of the ball as Aaron hits his 715th home run on April 8, 1974 in Atlanta. Take a look at more photos of the swing and the moment in history.
Hank Aaron, the umpire and the Dodgers catcher follow the flight of the ball as Aaron hits his 715th home run on April 8, 1974 in Atlanta. Take a look at more photos of the swing and the moment in history.
The Dodgers' Al Downing makes the pitch.
The Dodgers' Al Downing makes the pitch.
Aaron holds the ball he hit for his 715th home run.
Aaron holds the ball he hit for his 715th home run.

Watch the home run:

Listen to WSB Radio call

Hank’s final goodbye where he made history

More Channel 2 interviews