Life, legacy of Aaron celebrated in Atlanta on 50th anniversary of 715th home run

April 8th, 2024

ATLANTA -- As Commissioner Rob Manfred was preparing for the 50th anniversary of Hank Aaron hitting his historic 715th home run, he came across a quote that confirmed how widely revered the legendary slugger was.

“Muhammad Ali once said that Hank Aaron was the only man he idolized more than himself,” Manfred said.

Manfred, Dusty Baker and Ralph Garr were among those who came to the Atlanta History Center on Monday to celebrate one of the greatest moments in sports history. Fifty years have passed since Aaron captivated folks around the world by breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record.

Baker may have had the best seat in the house during that April 8, 1974, game against the Dodgers. He was in the on-deck circle when Aaron hit his historic home run against Al Downing.

“After he hit the home run, I didn’t want to go to the plate because I didn’t want to take away from when the family came out [to celebrate],” Baker said. “It was a joy. Then, after we resumed, I heard a bunch of clanking. I turned around and everyone was leaving and I was about to hit.”

Aaron would have enjoyed many of the laughs shared by the friends and family members who came to Atlanta to celebrate this anniversary of his most memorable home run. His widow Billye Aaron and close friend Ambassador Andrew Young were among those in attendance. As were some members of the 1974 Braves, including Baker, Garr and Tom House.

House has long been recognized as the man who caught Aaron’s historic home run.

“It wasn’t like it was a great catch,” House said. “If I had stood still it would have hit me in the forehead."

One of the highlights of Monday’s events was the unveiling of More than Brave: The Life of Henry Aaron, an Atlanta History Center exhibit that will open to the public through the completion of next summer’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Other dedications included:

The Baseball Hall of Fame will unveil a Hank Aaron statue on May 23.

The United States Postal Service announced Aaron will be featured on a stamp that will begin circulating this summer.

The Braves, MLB and the Henry Louis Aaron Fund endowed a $100,000 scholarship to Tuskegee University in Billye Aaron’s name.

The Henry Louis Aaron Fund was started after his 2021 passing to support Aaron's life-long passion to increase minority participation in baseball on the field, in baseball’s business operations, in careers at the Minor and Major League level, and in the front offices of clubs across MLB.

Aaron’s Chasing the Dream Foundation has created these opportunities since it started in 1994. The Hank Aaron Invitational has fueled MLB’s efforts to help high school-age players, with diverse backgrounds, to reach next levels in the game. Braves center fielder Michael Harris II, who won the 2022 National League Rookie of the Year Award, is a product of this program.

“I got to know Hank Aaron later in his life,” Manfred said. “He had that amazing presence that usually the great ones have. He was undoubtedly a force of change in our society. Hank’s legacy goes way beyond what he was as a player.”