Aaron set to savor 40th anniversary of 715th homer
Hank Aaron was more relieved than jubilant after he broke Babe Ruth’s home-run record on April 8, 1974.
The 40-year anniversary of his 715th homer provides a different perspective.
Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated on Tuesday night before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.
Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.
“I guess that’s just about what it’s all about, really,” Aaron said in a telephone interview. “That’s it. The moment itself has passed. The home run was hit and whatever else. It’s just enjoying some moments with friends.”
Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.
“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.
“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”
Emory students digging into Hank Aaron’s history
Three Emory University baseball players who set out to explore the history of the sport’s legends last year didn’t expect to find a connection between themselves and names like Hank Aaron, Ernie Banksor Pete Rose.
Kyle Arbuckle, Warren Kember and Brett Lake teamed up last year to dig through Emory’s collection of Hank Aaron materials, donated in 2013 by a former scout for the Atlanta Braves. The collection includes scouting reports, contracts and sometimes nasty letters Aaron received as he chased Babe Ruth‘s home run record. Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of his 715th home run, one better than Ruth. His record of 755 stood for decades until Barry Bonds passed it with 762.
The reports included scouts’ critiques of Aaron that the Emory juniors have heard about their own play.
“Soft hands.” ”Can’t run.” ”No chance for power.”
Turns out, athletes at every level know the sting of criticism.
The students were the first to look at some of the documents in Emory’s collection, said Pellom McDaniels, an assistant professor of African-American Studies and curator of African-American collections at Emory. It’s rare for undergraduates to be as engaged with library collections as the teammates became, especially without getting course credit for the work, McDaniels said.
But they saw themselves in the yellowing paperwork, especially the scouting reports.
The exhibit the students created using the library materials opens on April 24 at the university’s Robert W. Woodruff Library.
Kember got the project started after he attended a lecture series on race in sports culture. He went to McDaniels the next day and asked to look at the collection on Aaron.
“I was just like a kid in the candy store flipping through the scouting reports,” said Kember, 21.
They all were horrified by the negative and occasionally threatening letters that Aaron received.
But the item that stands out most for Arbuckle, 20, and Lake, 21, is a photo taken at the moment Aaron hit his 715th home run. A screen in the outfield reads “Move over Babe.”