On April 8, 1974, Mobile, Alabama native and Atlanta Braves outfielder Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run. By breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers, Aaron triggered the best and worst in American baseball fandom. Well over 50,000 spectators were with Aaron in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium that night. When Aaron hit a 4th inning pitch off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Al Downing, their cheers joined those of millions of television viewers. As an African American breaking the record of a white baseball icon, Aaron received death threats and racist hate mail.
In this informal talk, baseball historian Rich Megraw will recount Aaron’s historic run for the record. Megraw will discuss Aaron’s storied career, his other major league records, and how the experience of breaking Ruth’s record impacted Aaron.
Rich Megraw is an expert on modern American society and culture, especially as they regard sports. His publications include Confronting Modernity: Art and Society in Louisiana (University Press of Mississippi) and “The Writing on the Wall: Mural Art in New Deal Louisiana” in Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies.