In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Brewers hits the final home run of his legendary career. The longtime Braves slugger was finishing his career as Designated Hitter in the American League. Just 10,134 fans are on hand at County Stadium when Hank Aaron, following a two-run home run by George Scott, goes deep off Dick Drago of the California Angels. The homer gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead they would go on to win the game 6-2.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, Hank Aaron made his debut with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. It was the Braves' second season in Milwaukee after relocating from Boston, and Aaron quickly became a fan favorite. In 1957, Hammerin’ Hank played a key role in the Braves World Championship, winning the National League MVP while leading the National League with 44 home runs and 132 RBI. Aaron would never hit 50 home runs in a season, but over a two-decade period put a steady string of seasons with 30 or more homers to move up the all-time list. After hitting 398 while the franchise was in Milwaukee, Hank Aaron became the face of baseball in the South as the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. Taking advantage of the “launching pad” at Fulton County Stadium, Aaron continued to collect 30 home run seasons. From 1957-1973, topped 30 home runs in all but two seasons; this included eight seasons with at least 40 home runs. On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron became baseball’s all-time home run king, with his 715th career home run off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the age of 40, it would be his final season in Atlanta, as he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Dave May on October 2, 1974.
The trade allowed Hank Aaron to finish his career in the city. It began as the Brewers took over County Stadium in 1970. The Brewers were also an American League team, which allowed Aaron to continue to peruse milestones as a Designated Hitter. On May 1, 1975, Hank Aaron became baseball’s all-time leader in Runs Batted In, breaking the record old record, which like the home run mark, was held by Babe Ruth of 2,213. Hank Aaron would hit 12 home runs during the 1975 season, as it was clear that his best days were behind him. Playing just 85 games in 1976, Aaron hit ten home runs, with just 34 RBI as he had a career-low batting average of .229. Hank Aaron would finish his career with a .305 average with 755 home runs and 2,297 RBI. He would be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982.
Hank Aron’s 755 career home runs would stand until 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Despite Bonds finishing with 763 home runs, many still recognize Hammerin’ Hank as the All-Time Home Run King, as Bonds record was at least partially aided by Performance Enhancing Drugs. Hank Aaron’s 2,297 RBI, meanwhile, still stands as the all-time best.