MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Forty years ago, Tuesday, April 8, Mobile’s very own, Hank Aaron hit his memorable and iconic 715th home run. He surpassed Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list. Henry Louis Aaron’s hit was remembered Tuesday to every baseball fan, both young and old.
Whether you saw it in person or saw it on television, it is considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of sports.
It was a career that started in Mobile off Edwards Avenue in the Toulmanville community – a career that became so great, his name cascades across the city’s AA baseball team, the Mobile Bay Bears. His childhood home even moved to the property serving as a constant reminder of the records he broke. But more importantly, what kind of man he is.
“As far as I’m concerned and as far as Hank Aaron stadium is concerned, there’s only one all-time home run king and that’s Henry Louis Aaron,” said Mike Callahan, Assistant GM with the Bay Bears.
Over his years at ‘The Hank,’ Mike has come to know ‘Hank’ as a friend and a lover of the game.
“He is one of the most humble men you’ve ever met and he is so grateful for what he has accomplished. Not because of the accomplishment itself but because he just wanted to play baseball. That’s all he ever wanted to do was play baseball,” said Callahan.
And he did just that.
“I think he carried that and understood the responsibility that he had as a baseball but as a black baseball player,” said Callahan.
At Hank Aaron Park in Aaron’s childhood neighborhood, the game is still played by kids following in his footsteps.
“For Hank Aaron being an African American and coming from the Toulmanville community, it’s an honor to coach these kids and let them know they have the same opportunity to come out of this neighborhood and be successful in life, said youth baseball coach Eric Flets.
“It’s a tremendous thing. Not only for baseball but the city of Mobile and for Hank Aaron Stadium. It celebrates and remembers the day that they said the record that couldn’t be broken was broken. And it was broken by Mobile’s own Hammerin’ Hank Aaron,” said Callahan.
On Tuesday night, Aaron was honored at Turner Field in Atlanta. Former Braves play-by-play announcer Pete van Wieren introduced Aaron, and the evening that went down in baseball history.
“The pitch came in the bottom of the fourth inning. The LA Dodgers were leading 3-1. The county was one ball, no strikes. Daryl Evans was the runner at first and at 9:07 pm, Al Downing threw a fastball that Hank sent over the left field fence in what some now refer to as ‘the shot heard around the world,” said van Wieren.
“It was the shot heard around the world breaking the record people said couldn’t be broken,” said Callahan.
“Please welcome, Atlanta’s all-time great, Hank Aaron,” said van Wieren.
Aaron, along with his wife Billie, and former teammates, were in attendance, as over 50,000 watched a legend address the crowd.
“I just want to say, on behalf of Hank Aaron, my wife, and of course all my fans, I just want to say thank you so very much for all your kindness for these many years,” said Aaron.
“I remember it like it was yesterday and that moment lives in my heart forever. And every time, it gives me chill bumps. That’s what baseball is all about,” said Callahan.
Admission to Aaron’s Childhood Home and Museum is $5 for adults and $3 for children Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Free admission to the home is accepted one hour prior to home games with purchase of a game ticket.