April 8 - 1974 - Hank Aaron Hits Home Run Number 715

The monumental event that occurred when Hank Aaron hit a home run on April 8, 1974, was that he became the all time home run leader in baseball history, surpassing Babe Ruth. That was a big enough occasion, as Babe Ruth was the best player of all time and the record was seen as unbreakable for decades. Yet there was a larger context to Aaron's record-breaking home run. As a black man, Aaron received death threats for being on the verge of approaching Babe Ruth's total of 714. Really, Aaron was one of the first African-Americans who could have possibly broken Ruth's record, as baseball was only integrated in 1947, and Aaron joined the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. Therefore, Aaron had a long, outstanding career entirely in Major League Baseball, something that would not have been open to him had he been born a decade earlier. As the 1974 season opened, Aaron sat at 713 home runs, and everyone knew he would break the record. Finally, against the Los Angeles Dodgers' Al Downing in the Braves' home opener that season, Aaron hit the ball over the left field fence for the record.

William Floyd