Today in American History: April 8, 1974

Today in American History: April 8, 1974

Where are my baseball fans at?! Baseball is one of those quintessential examples of American summers. When I think back to my childhood, I remember the smell of fresh cut grass, lemonade, and the "tink" of baseball bats. Sandlot anyone? It's just one of those All-American things, like apple pie.

Well, on this day in 1974, Hank Aaron broke the famous Babe Ruth's home run record. At the time, Hank Aaron played for the Atlanta Braves and hit his 715th career home run. More than 53,000 people were there that night when he hit his historic home run against the LA Dodgers. 

Baseball legend Hank "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron

Although this was an amazing record to break, historic even, it was bittersweet for Hank. Because he was an African American man, he had received death threats and racist hate mail from those who were against him pursuing that goal. 

Hank Aaron meeting with President Jimmy Carter

Hank Aaron was born Henry Louis Aaron Jr. in Mobile, Alabama on February 5, 1934. It was only seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the segregation barrier in baseball that Hank Aaron debuted his MLB career in 1954. He debuted with the Milwaukee Braves and was the last Negro League player to also play in the Major Leagues. In 1957 Aaron was awarded as the National League’s Most Valuable Player, and just a few weeks later hit three home runs in the World Series against the New York Yankees. He earned the nickname "Hammerin' Hank" and by the end of his career had a total of 2,297 RBIs (runs batted in).

Hank Aaron with Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter

He had a 23 year long career in baseball and finally hung up his cleats in 1976. His involvement in baseball didn't end when he retired, he continued on to be an executive with the Atlanta Braves. He held his home run record of 755 until 2007, when Barry Bonds broke it. 

Hank Aaron being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush

 Hank Aaron was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He died on January 22, 2021, he was 86 years old. 

Hank Aaron got plenty of hate mail from racist fans during his baseball career, but never let it stop him. (Getty)
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