1974 | CINCINNATI, OHIO – Hank Aaron didn’t waste time. In the first inning of the first game of the 1974 season the Atlanta Braves outfielder hit a 3-run homer off Cincinnati Reds starter Jack Billingham to tie Babe Ruth with 714 career home runs.
It was only a matter of time before Aaron broke the record. Despite Aaron’s heroics, the Reds beat the Braves 7-6.
There’s an interesting side-light to this story. Atlanta Braves management wanted Aaron to break the record at home. They planned to sit him for the first three games of the season in Cincinnati. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn wouldn’t have it, and ruled that Aaron had to play two out of three.
The rest is history. Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s record in his very first at bat and, fortunately for the Braves, didn’t hit another home run in the series. So, the Braves returned home with the anticipation of Aaron breaking the record in front of the home crowd, which he did four days later.
Henry Aaron retired in 1976. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982. He is the only player in major league history to hit at least 20 home runs in 20 seasons.
Piece of trivia: Who was Sandy Koufax’s first strike out? Hank Aaron.