Hank Aaron's 715th: Atlanta Braves celebrate 50 years since home run record broken

On April 8, 1974, history was made in Atlanta as Hank Aaron knocked his 715th ball out of the park, topping the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth. That was the day Hammerin' Hank Aaron cemented himself as the home run king.

"Aaron waiting. The outfield deep and straight away. Fastball is a high drive into deep center field, back to the fence … and it's gone!"

Tom House, the former Braves pitcher, had the honor of catching the history-making homer.

"I knew when I got the ball I had to get it in his hand," House told FOX 5.

House was one of the members of the 1974 Braves team members on hand Monday at the Atlanta History Center on the 50th anniversary of the monumental moment.

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Atlanta History Center honors Hank Aaron with an exhibit paying homage to his life and legacy.

He was there as Billye Aaron, Hank's widow, cut the ribbon to help open a new exhibit that takes a look at The Hammer's life, impact and obstacles he overcame to reach greatness.

RELATED NEWS: Hank Aaron rose above racist hate mail and threats in pursuit of Ruth’s home run record 50 years ago

"For me, this is the first total picture of Henry Aaron in a setting where it can be appreciated," said House.

"It was a wonderful feeling, and they did a marvelous job," said Ralph Garr, former Braves outfielder.

Paul Crater from the Atlanta History Center is one of the people who helped put the exhibit together.

"It just didn't seem like work," he said.

The center worked with Billye Aaron to bring never-before seen items together for the exhibit, which officially opens Tuesday. It is expected to remain open through the 2025 all-star game in Atlanta.

Some of the items on display include his Hall of Fame ring, an original Peanuts cartoon drawn about him, and his 1974 away jersey.

"I hope people learn what an incredible human being Henry Aaron was," Crater said. "He was an empathetic, kind, caring human being who made it his life's mission to give to others."

FOX 5 Atlanta reporter Tyler Fingert contributed to this report

50 years since Hank Aaron's 715th home run: Atlanta Braves celebrate

Before Monday night's game against the New York Mets, the Braves held a special commemoration to honor Atlanta's home run king.

RELATED NEWS: Hank Aaron's 715th home run: Atlanta Braves have gifts for fans who witnessed history

FOX 5 Sports was there for the pregame ceremony where Hank's family celebrated on the field alongside other baseball luminaries and Atlanta's civil rights icons.

Fans who could prove they witnessed the historic moment 50 years ago were given free tickets to enjoy Monday's celebration.

Check out FOX 5 Atlanta's timeline of Hank Aaron's exciting life and impressive career.

FOX 5 Atlanta's Kelly Price and DJ Shockley contributed to this report

Hall of Fame announces Hank Aaron statue, Postal Service unveils stamp

The 50th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run was marked Monday with announcements of a new statue at Baseball’s Hall of Fame and a new commemorative stamp from the U.S. Postal Service.

Meanwhile, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred helped honor Aaron in Atlanta by joining the Braves in announcing the $100,000 endowment of a scholarship at Tuskegee University, a historically Black university in Aaron’s home state of Alabama.

Manfred noted the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, launched by the Braves following Aaron’s death in 2021, and the Chasing the Dream Foundation, created by Aaron and wife Billye, were designed to clear paths for minorities in baseball and to encourage educational opportunities.

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 8:  (L-R) Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Billye Aaron and Dusty Baker attend a ceremony on the field marking the 50th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record before a game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets in the first inning at Truist Park on April 8, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images)

"I got to know Hank later in his life and he had that amazing presence that the great ones usually have, and he was undoubtedly a force for change in our society," Manfred said at the Atlanta History Center, where a new exhibit honoring Aaron was unveiled.

"I’m sure that commitment to improving the life of others was in part a product of what he went through as a player. Hank’s legacy goes way beyond baseball."

The exhibit will remain open through the 2025 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Billye Aaron attended the unveiling of the exhibit and spoke in a video about Aaron’s record-breaking homer in 1974. She said while watching from her seat near the field, she was upset to see two 17-year-old fans, Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtenay, run onto the diamond and join Aaron as he ran around the bases.

"It just made me angry," Billye Aaron said, adding she thought the young fans were "stealing his thunder" but noted her husband was not upset.

"If I had been Henry running around the bases, I would have given them more than an elbow," she said.

Another fan, Charlie Russo, told The Associated Press he followed Aaron’s family onto the field and for the first time he made available a video reproduction of the 8mm film he shot that night.

Manfred said much has changed in the last 50 years, including security. "I think we’re better than letting fans onto the field," he said.

Aaron’s 715th home run topped the record 714 hit by Babe Ruth in a career from 1914-35. Aaron hit 755 home runs from 1954-76, a mark that stood until Barry Bonds hit 762 from 1986-2007, a feat assisted by performance-enhancing drugs.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: A view of a statue commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Hank Aaron's 715th home run prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Monday, April 8, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Tod

Baseball’s Hall of Fame will unveil a bronze statue of Hank Aaron on May 23 on the first floor of its museum in Cooperstown, New York.

Aaron was elected to the hall in 1982. A 25-time All-Star, he set a record with 2,297 RBIs. He continues to hold the records of 1,477 extra-base hits and 6,856 total bases.

"The legacy of Hank Aaron has always been about so much more than just his incredible baseball achievements," Hall chair Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement. "His philanthropic vision, his support of youth empowerment efforts and his pioneering work as an executive have opened the doors of opportunity for millions throughout the United States and around the world. We are extremely privileged to care for and preserve his entire personal collection in Cooperstown, and this statue will stand forever as a tribute to an American hero."

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: Fans hold signs commemorating Hank Aaron's home runs during a pregame 50th anniversary celebration prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Monday, April 8, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Postal Service announced it will release a stamp picturing Aaron in his batting stance wearing his Atlanta Braves uniform. The date of issue and dedication ceremony will be announced later.

Among Aaron’s teammates from the 1974 Braves team who attended the event at the Atlanta History Center were Dusty Baker, who was on deck when Aaron hit the homer off Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Al Downing, and Tom House, the reliever who caught the ball in the bullpen.

Baker retired as Houston’s manager following the 2023 season.

Billye Aaron joined Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Baker and others on the field as the Braves marked the anniversary in a ceremony before Monday night’s game against the New York Mets. Following a video replay of the record homer, Baker said "Babe was a bad dude, but Hank was badder."

Delta announced a $150,000 contribution to the Henry Louis Aaron Fund. The Braves had "715" painted on the grass in center field.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: General view of Truist Park with "715" painted on the field in honor of Hank Aaron before the game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets on April 8, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty

The Hank Aaron Invitational is designed to encourage high school players from diverse backgrounds to play at higher levels. Alumni of the Hank Aaron Invitational include Cincinnati pitcher Hunter Greene, who participated in 2015, and Braves outfielder Michael Harris II, who played in 2018.

Baker referred to Aaron as a father figure who looked out for him as he began his playing career with the Braves. Baker and other teammates, including Ralph Garr, tried to protect Aaron as he received racist mail and threats during the home run chase.

"It makes me proud to see how many people he helped, not only on the field but off," Baker said Monday.

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08: A detail view of the Hank Aaron '74 home run record bobblehead presented by Truist and commemorative base prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Monday, April 8, 2024 in Atlanta, G

Added Garr: "He told me all the time, ‘I don’t want anybody to forget Babe Ruth or forget me either.’"

Associated Press pro and college sports reporter Charles Odum contributed to this report