Braves Classics set to air throughout April

April 4th, 2020

ATLANTA -- Hank Aaron’s historic home run and Jason Heyward’s thunderous introduction to the Major Leagues are among the events that will be featured as the Braves begin celebrating the anniversary of memorable April games with streams on their YouTube and Facebook pages.

The 10th anniversary of Heyward’s Opening Day home run will be recognized when this Braves Classics series begins on Sunday. Along with showing the entirety of the game, the club will use social media to encourage fans to discuss memories and interact much like they would when watching a live broadcast.

Here’s the April schedule (start time for the final five streams will be announced at a later date):

Sunday, April 5 at 7 p.m. ET: Braves vs. Cubs (Heyward homers in MLB debut, 2010)

Wednesday, April 8: Braves vs. Dodgers (Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s record, 1974)

Friday, April 10: Braves at Astros (Chipper Jones homers in his final season debut, 2012)

Tuesday, April 14: Braves vs. Padres (First game at SunTrust Park, 2017)

Friday, April 17: Braves vs. Marlins (Jones homers twice as John Smoltz notches his last win as a Brave, 2008)

Sunday, April 26: Braves at Reds (Ronald Acuña Jr.’s hits his first career home run, 2018)

Now here are some interesting facts about each contest:

Heyward's homer

Heyward was the game’s top prospect and just three years removed from being taken in the first round of the MLB Draft out of Henry County High School, which is located less than 30 minutes south of downtown Atlanta. The hometown kid did not disappoint when he homered on the first swing of his much-anticipated career and propelled the Braves to a 16-5 win over the Cubs. Some fans argue that moment was the loudest in Turner Field history.

Interesting facts:
Per Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, at 20 years and 239 days, Heyward became the fifth-youngest (now sixth-youngest) player to homer on Opening Day. He stands with Orlando Cepeda (1958) and Eddie Morgan ('36) as the only players 21 or younger to homer on Opening Day while making their Major League debut. Like Heyward, Morgan homered in his first plate appearance.

Did you know?
The 16 runs the Braves scored in this win stand as the fifth most any team has tallied on Opening Day. The only teams to top this mark are the 1925 Indians (21), '55 Yankees (19), '12 Giants (18) and '51 White Sox (17).

Aaron’s historic blast

One of the most iconic moments in baseball history occurred when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run against Al Downing in the fourth inning of the Braves' 7-4 win over the Dodgers on April 8, 1974. A national television audience heard the call from Vin Scully and caught a glimpse of a young Craig Sager, who was an eager and budding television reporter when he interviewed Aaron after he crossed the plate.

Interesting facts:
When Aaron broke the record, he stood with Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) as the only players to hit more than 552 home runs (Frank Robinson’s total at the time). This stands as the only game in franchise history during which the Braves scored at least seven runs while recording four hits or less.

Did you know?
A 26-year-old Charlie Hough pitched the final two innings on this night for the Dodgers. The last of the knuckleballer’s 57 career appearances against the Braves occurred while he was playing for the Marlins on June 30, 1994. So, the first Brave he ever faced was Clete Boyer on Sept. 3, 1970, and the last was Mark Lemke.

Chipper’s final season debut

Approximately three weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and announcing the 2012 season would be his last, Chipper Jones produced yet another memorable moment when he homered while making his season debut in the Braves’ 6-4 win over the Astros. The Hall of Famer didn’t play any Minor League rehab games. But he singled in his first plate appearance and then hit the third-inning homer, which brought tears to the eyes of his parents, who had traveled to Houston from the family’s former ranch in Southwest Texas.

Interesting facts:
Jones hit .323 with 20 homers and a .966 OPS over 129 games against the Astros. The only other teams to surrender a higher OPS (min. 100 games against him) were the Phillies (1.036), Rockies (1.029) and Padres (.970).

Did you know?
Tyler Pastornicky’s homer in the third inning of this victory was the first of a career that had spanned 11 plate appearances before that point. The shortstop, who would lose his starting job to Andrelton Simmons two months later, homered just one other time over 268 career plate appearances.

First game at the new park

The recently-renamed Truist Park opened when the Braves beat the Padres, 5-2, on April 14, 2017. Ender Inciarte recorded the first out, tallied the first run and hit the first home run in the park’s history.

Interesting facts:
Nick Markakis recorded the first RBI in the stadium’s history, and he hit a walk-off homer to end the memorable season opener against the Phillies in 2018.

Did you know?
This home opener was strangely the third start of the season for Julio Teheran, who made two prior starts as the Braves began the season with a nine-game road trip.

Smoltz’s last win as a Brave

Given the strong bond formed while playing nearly two full decades together, it was only fitting that Jones hit two home runs on a night when John Smoltz notched the last of his 210 career wins for the Braves. Smoltz’s shoulder was ailing, but he still managed to record 10 strikeouts over five innings in this outing, and he joined the 3,000 strikeout club with another 10-strikeout effort against the Nationals five days later.

Interesting facts:
Smoltz tossed seven strong innings and notched what was his 71st career win on Sept. 11, 1993. This was the same day Jones made his MLB debut. He entered as a pinch-runner during the eighth inning and then played shortstop during the ninth inning of a victory over the Padres.

Did you know?
Jones ranks third in Braves’ history with 40 multi-homer games. The only players in franchise history to do so more often were Aaron (62) and Eddie Mathews (47).

Acuña’s first homer

Ronald Acuña Jr. made his much-anticipated MLB debut in Cincinnati on April 25, 2018, and then hit his first career homer the following day. His milestone blast was a no-doubter that soared into the second deck at Great American Ball Park.

Interesting facts:
Acuña stands as one of 19 players in MLB history aged 20 years and 129 days or younger to hit his first homer within his first two career games. The only other Brave to do so was Andruw Jones, who was 19 years and 115 days old when he also homered in his second career game on Aug. 16, 1996.

Did you know?
Acuña’s 67 homers tie Frank Robinson for the fourth most hit by a player aged 21 years or younger. The only players who hit more are Mel Ott (86), Tony Conigliaro (84) and Mathews (72).