44 Years ago today , On April 4th, 1974 Hank Aaron wearing #44 tied Babe Ruth's career home run record of 714 that had stood for 40 years.
It came in his first at-bat of the season with two men on in the first inning to give Atlanta a quick 3-0 lead. It came on a 3-1 pitch that was served up by Reds hurler Jack Billingham that Aaron parked right past the 375 sign on the left field wall.
With 714 flashing on the scoreboard, and the crowd in Cincinnati giving him a standing ovation, Aaron trotted around the bases and right into the record books.
Four days later, in front of a home crowd in Atlanta, Aaron surpassed the Babe, and became baseball's all-time home run king, and also ending his career in 1976 with a total of 755 home runs while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Coincidentally, and perhaps even ironically, and symbolically he tied the record on the 6th anniversary of MLK's death. Whereas for the majority of MLB's history is was a white man's game, but here Aaron historically evened the score so to speak.
Mr. Aaron is still alive and is presently 84 years old.
On a side note on the day before, April 3, 1974 was the massive tornado outbreak in the Cincinnati area. My now deceased life partner (who I hadn't yet met since I was at the time just shy of 10 years old) had been working at the downtown Cincinnati Justice Center as the head court reporter, and because of the increasing weather threat the court room closed early for the day just as many other downtown businesses did as well.
On his walk home to his downtown apartment he was searching for a place still open to grab some lunch. He passed a cafe that he had frequented and saw that it had already closed, yet the waitress recognized him looking in the window and waved him in anyhow, and said that he could still be served just as long as he didn't mind sharing the dining room with her only other patron, Mr. Hank Aaron.
As a huge MLB fan, heck yeah he thought, and went on in where he indeed found Mr. Aaron having his lunch where Hank said to Patrick, since we're the only ones here why don't join me here at my table.
What a nice stroke of luck... which was just only one of the many times he had brushes with MLB Hall of Famers.
One time he was having lunch at the counter at Hathaway's in the Carew Tower, and who sits down on a stool directly next to him but none other than hall of fame MLB picture for the Arizona Diamondbacks "The Big Unit" Randy Johnson who was in town during a series with the Reds.
Because Patrick was considered to be the fastest fingers in the United States as he was also at the time the President of the National Court Reporters, he was invited onto the Bob Braun show where the theme that day was locals who had amazing talents where hostess Colleen Sharp jokingly read something super fast to see if Patrick could take it all down on his stenograph machine. Coincidentally on this same show he shared the couch with Johnny Bench who was on the show to hold 7 baseballs in one hand.