Keepsakes: Sports sections captured Hank Aaron becoming home run king

This is a portion of the front page of The Atlanta Constitution sports section April 9, 1974, the day after Braves legend Henry Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record. (Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This is a portion of the front page of The Atlanta Constitution sports section April 9, 1974, the day after Braves legend Henry Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record. (Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Two Atlanta Constitution sports sections have stayed near me for 50 years, keepsakes of an unforgettable moment for a young Braves fan.

I’ve kept those sections (the sports section dated April 9, 1974 and the Braves preview section dated April 4, 1974) for 50 years, through many, many moves, including to four other states. I’ve taken them in and out of various storage boxes, but I wouldn’t let go of them. Too much history and too many memories.

I still have them because of their ties to that electric night when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. While “electric” might seem like a cliché, it didn’t feel that way April 8, 1974, when I was young and waiting eagerly for the Braves game to start.

That Aaron ended the 1973 season one home run shy of tying Ruth’s record, having hit No. 713 in the next-to-last game, made for a long anticipation during an offseason filled with the buzz around Aaron’s pursuit of the record. Then, finally, came the season opener and No. 714. I still remember where I was four days later when Aaron broke the record, sitting on the edge of my parents’ bed as I watched the game on TV. I knew I had seen greatness.

Over the years, I’ve made myself throw away many keepsakes, but not those sports sections. They weren’t going anywhere. Recently, as I read and edited some of the AJC’s package of articles to mark the 50th anniversary of the great home run, I remembered those sections, and I searched until I found them and was glad that I kept them. Then my mind went back in time, and I remembered how special that night was.

This is the front page of The Atlanta Constitution sports section April 9, 1974, the day after Braves legend Henry Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record. (Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Credit: Contributed by David Wellham/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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