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On this day in history, April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s home run record

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Baseball superstar Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, on this day in history, April 8, 1974. 

Known as “Hammerin’ Hank” for his impressive home run abilities, Aaron hit his record-breaking home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. 

The ball went into the “left field bullpen at Atlanta-Fulton Count Stadium, giving Aaron 715 career home runs,” said the site. 

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Up to that point, Babe Ruth’s home run record had stood for nearly 20 years, since his retirement from the game in 1935. 

Aaron would go on to hit 40 more home runs before he retired in 1976, marking a career total of 755.

Born Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron on Feb. 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama, he would make his major league debut on April 13, 1954, playing right field for the Milwaukee Braves, says his page on the MLB website. 

Milwaukee Brewers’ Hank Aaron watches the flight of a hit off Boston Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee. The Boston Red Sox hosted the Milwaukee Brewers in a regular season MLB baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on Sep. 14, 1975.  (Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

That first season, Aaron hit 13 home runs. 

He more than doubled that in 1955, with 27, and had a breakout year in 1957, hitting 44 home runs that season alone. 

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Also in 1957, the Milwaukee Braves won the World Series — and Aaron was named the National League’s MVP, notes the MLB’s website. 

Aaron’s home run record has been surpassed since, but he still holds two MLB records.

Aaron’s home run record stood until the 2007 season, when Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run, Fox News previously reported. 

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Bonds retired from baseball after hitting a total of 762 total home runs. 

Although Aaron’s home run record has been surpassed since, he still holds two MLB records.

Hank Aaron held the career home run record from April 8, 1974, to August 2007. He etired from baseball at the end of the 1976 season. 

Hank Aaron held the career home run record from April 8, 1974, to August 2007. He etired from baseball at the end of the 1976 season.  (DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images)

“Aaron remains baseball’s all-time leader in RBI (2,297) and total bases (6,856),” says the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

“If each of his 755 home runs were removed from his statistical record, Aaron would still have 3,016 hits,” the organization also notes.

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Aaron retired from baseball at the end of the 1976 season. 

During his career, he played for the Milwaukee Braves (which became the Atlanta Braves in 1966 when the franchise moved to Atlanta) from 1954-1975. He spent his final two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, says the MLB’s website. 

Hank Aaron is shown in 2017. In 1982, the first year he was eligible, Aaron was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hank Aaron is shown in 2017. In 1982, the first year he was eligible, Aaron was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. ( Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

In 1982, the first year he was eligible, Aaron was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, garnering votes on 97.8% of ballots, says the hall of fame’s website. 

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His plaque reads, “Hit 755 home runs in 23-year career to become Majors’ all-time homer king. Had 20 or more for 20 consecutive years, at least 30 in 15 seasons and 40 or better eight times. Also set records for games played (3,298), at-bats (12,364), long hits (1,477), total bases (6,856), runs batted in (2,297). Paced N.L. in batting twice and homers, runs batted in and slugging pct. four times each. Won Most Valuable Player Award in N.L. in 1957.”

Aaron’s number, 44, was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Aaron died on Jan. 22, 2021, at age 86.

“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” said Braves chairman Terry McGuirk in a statement at the time, as Fox News Digital reported.  

“He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature.”



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