On the 46th anniversary of No. 715, we got another look at Hank Aaron’s historic homer of April 8, 1974, this time via the Braves’ Facebook and YouTube channels Wednesday night.
We saw Aaron’s first at-bat of that famous game, a five-pitch second-inning walk that provoked the Atlanta crowd of 53,755 to boo Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. We then saw Aaron score from first base as a double by Dusty Baker rolled through the legs of Dodgers left fielder Bill Buckner.
We saw Aaron come to bat for the second time of the night in the fourth inning, with a runner, Darrell Evans, on first base. We saw Aaron’s strong, quick wrists power a 1-0 pitch from Downing over the fence in left-center field to break Babe Ruth’s career home-run record. We saw the homer land in the glove of Braves relief pitcher Tom House in the bullpen. We saw Dodgers second baseman Davey Lopes congratulate Aaron as he circled the bases.
We saw all of Aaron’s teammates meet him at home plate. We saw Aaron’s parents meet him there, too. We saw his mother give him a long, tight hug. We saw young sportscaster Craig Sager, Braves owner Bill Bartholomay and mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa around the plate, too, among many others.
We heard Bartholomay call the home run “the greatest moment in the history of sports in the United States” and call Aaron “the greatest ballplayer and finest gentleman.” We heard thunderous cheers from the crowd. We saw fireworks explode into the sky.
We saw these words on a stadium sign: “Move Over Babe. Here Comes Henry.” We heard Aaron say these words into a stadium microphone, “I just thank God it’s all over with.” We saw Aaron hold the home-run ball, delivered to the plate by House, high above his head in his right hand.
It was great to see it all again.
We’d like to have seen much more in the latest installment of the “Braves Classics” series on Facebook and YouTube. Surprisingly, the Braves didn’t re-air the entire game, a 7-4 win over the Dodgers that was nationally televised by NBC on April 8, 1974. A Braves spokeswoman said MLB provided the footage shown Wednesday night and “didn’t have the entire game.” The Braves plan to show the full telecasts of other “Braves Classics” re-airing on social media this month while the 2020 MLB season is shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Braves showed the footage of No. 715 on Wednesday without including the audio of the calls made 46 years ago by NBC's Curt Gowdy, Braves radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton or Dodgers radio broadcaster Vin Scully. All three calls are available elsewhere on the Internet.
Gowdy: “There’s a long drive. The ball is hit deep. Deep. It is gone! He did it! He did it! Henry Aaron is the all-time home-run leader now. ... Listen to this (crowd). He did it.”
Hamilton: “He’s sitting on 714. Here’s the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There’s a drive into left-center field. That ball is gonna 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. The fireworks are going. Henry Aaron is coming around third. His teammates are at home plate. And listen to this crowd. … A sellout crowd is cheering Henry Aaron, the home-run king of all time, 715.”
Scully: “It’s a high drive into deep left-center field. Buckner goes back to the fence. It is gone! … 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.”