April 4, 1974
Hank Aaron came from humble beginnings in Mobile to become one of the all-time baseball greats. His major league career began in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves, a team that later moved to Atlanta. On opening day 1974, the Atlanta Braves were in Cincinnati facing the Reds when Aaron – at bat for the first time that season – hit a three-run blast over the head of outfielder Pete Rose to tie Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714, set in 1935. Then-Vice President Gerald Ford was there and came onto the field to congratulate Aaron amid a standing ovation from the Cincinnati fans. Four days later, Aaron would break Ruth’s record and go on to hit 755 home runs. Aaron would hold the record for 33 years.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hank Aaron was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1957, a year in which he compiled a .322 batting average and hit 44 home runs for the Milwaukee Braves. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Atlanta Braves slugger Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing record when he hit his 715th home run in Atlanta on April 8, 1974. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants walks by a sign that keeps count of the number of career home runs Bonds has hit, along with the career home run totals of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sept. 27, 2003. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.