When Henry Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth in 1974, there were three different television and radio calls of the moment.
Curt Dowdy called it for the NBC network, Vin Scully for the Dodgers radio network and Milo Hamilton for the Braves radio network.
Hamilton is shown in this photo getting ready for a 1972 Braves game with radio partner Ernie Johnson, who passed away in 2011. The two called the memorable game but Hamilton was on the mike for the homer.
Hamilton, 87, lives in Houston, having retired after the 2012 season following 28 years with the Astros. He was the Braves first play-by-play announcer when the team came to town in 1966 and stayed until 1975 before working a season in Pittsburgh. He called Cubs games for five years before finally joining the Astros booth in 1985.
He is in the Baseball Hall of Famer and wrote a somewhat controversial book entitled, “Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo’s Microphone.’’ But Hamilton always says his finest moment in baseball was the call of Aaron’s monumental home run, saying, “There was never anything that was going to top that. Never.’’
Dowdy, Scully and Hamilton all treated the moment differently.
Dowdy called it pretty straight to a national audience while Scully called the homer and then paused for more than 15 minutes, letting the crowd noise take over. He is remembered for saying: “What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the county 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. It is a great moment for all of us and particularly Henry Aaron.’’
While Hamilton was considered egocentric by many in his field, his handling of Aaron’s homer was praised by most.
Calling it for WSB-AM, he said: “Here’s the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There’s a drive into left-center field. That ball is going to be … out of here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home run champion of all-time! And it’s Henry Aaron!’’
Interestingly, Johnson called Aaron’s 500th, 600th and 700th homer. After that he insisted that he call every at-bat by Aaron.
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