The 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record breaking home of 715 to surpass Babe Ruth took place on April 8 1974. Thinking back on all of the milestones in sports history since my birth, I consider this to be my number one.
As a middle schooler, working at my father’s business customers spoke daily about the significance of the record being broken. Many were afraid for Hank Aaron safety. Hank Aaron an African American received death threats repeatedly before and after breaking the record held by legendary Babe Ruth.
Since it was less than thirty years prior when a African American Baseball player names Jackie Robinson player took to the field on April 15, 1947, as the first player of color ever in the sport. In honor of this moment in time baseball all players of baseball games on April 15, wear the number 42 in honor of this true American Baseball hero.
In the same year my beloved St. Louis Baseball Cardinal, outfielder Lou Brock stole 118 bases by September 29, 1974, breaking the previous record of 104 set in 1962. The year was one of many memories as people spoke of how baseball was impacted by the introduction of African Americans players.
I heard in the concern in the voices of African American customers for Hank Aaron’s and Lou Brock’s personal safety and the lack of media attention paid to not only the players but the records they broke.
Whenever I view video footage of theses incredible sports records forty years later of baseballs greatest players of their time it really warms my heart.
What angers me at times is the lack of national media coverage during the time the two baseball greats broke their records. Yes of course there was no ESPN at that time in history, however later in that year Lou Brock was named sportsman of the year.
That same year the Cleveland Indians name Frank Robinson their manager, becoming baseball’s first African American Baseball manager and Muhammad Ali defeated George Forman in the 8th round knocking him out. Muhammad Ali was later named sportsman of the year by Sports illustrated and Lou Brock was named baseball sportsman of the year, by Sporting News.
All in all this was an incredible year in sports for African Americans in the field of sports