Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in April 2015. Aaron reportedly died in Atlanta at the age of 86.
Cincinnati will forever hold special meaning to Hank Aaron.
And his revered legacy is sure to be a topic of discussion when he returns to town this summer.
Aaron told The Enquirer this week he was likely to attend the Major League Baseball All-Star game at Great American Ball Park on July 14th.
Aaron’s last visit to Cincinnati was June 20, 2009 when he was participating in the Civil Rights Game at GABP.
This spring is an opportunity to ponder one of the legendary ballplayer’s greatest moments, which happened almost 45 years ago in the fading days of Crosley Field.
Aaron was the ninth Major League player to join the exclusive club with 3,000 goals when he defeated Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson in the second game of a doubles player on Sunday at Crosley Field on May 17, 1970.
Aaron’s 755 home races during his career in the Hall of Fame are known.
He hit his 714th home run in front of Jack Billingham to tie Babe Ruth on opening day, April 4, 1974, at Riverfront Stadium. The ball and bat are on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Marty Brennaman, who made his debut as Reds radio announcer on the opening day in 1974, called Aaron’s homerun.
Brennaman told The Enquirer that he is still occasionally asked about Aaron’s homerun and recalls the anticipation for the opening day, which included Vice President Gerald Ford’s participation.
“I don’t remember being overly nervous,” Brennaman said. “I don’t think it’s a bad call.”
Brennaman said that he had Pete Roses a record 4,192. Hit in 1985 rates as his first moment with Aaron’s # 2 homerun.
The footage of Aaron’s record breaking home game # 715 on April 8, 1974 in Atlanta remains anchored in the minds of generations of baseball fans.
However, what is not so often admired is the fact that he has had 3,771 career hits.
“Most people don’t ask me about it,” Aaron told The Enquirer.
“I’ve always said what I’ve played baseball – what I’m most proud of – in my 23 years, that I got as many hits as I did. The most important thing in my career in the 23 years I’ve played . ” is played is that I never hit 100 times. Getting the base hits has been the greatest thrill of my life. “
Aaron, 81, says he’s in mostly good health and in good spirits during a phone interview with The Enquirer last week.
Aaron, Senior Vice President, Atlanta Braves Front Office, had partial left hip surgery in February 2014 after falling on ice. But despite some complaints, Aaron says that given his age, he is fine.
While Cincinnati explores past All-Star Games and the history of the ballpark this year, Aaron gets a lot of attention for what he accomplished in 1970.
Aaron’s entry into the 3,000-goal club came just weeks before Crosley Field hosted its last major league game on June 24.
A crowd of 33,217 – the largest at Crosley Field in 23 years – gave Aaron a standing ovation for his May 17th milestone.
Aaron becomes the first player to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. (Willie Mays, Rafael Palmeiro, and Eddie Murray are the only other players to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits).
Before Aaron’s 3,000. Hitting there was some debate in the media about whether Aaron and Cubs’ first baseman, Ernie Banks, would hit personal milestones in the same game in May 1970.
Banks was a home race from # 500 when he played the final game of a homestand against the Braves at Wrigley Field on May 12, 1970, but Aaron needed five more hits at that point.
Aaron went 4-0, but Banks hit his 500th home run – a line drive that shot to left field during the last game of the series at Wrigley.
When the Braves arrived in Cincinnati three days later to play at Crosley Field, Aaron set the weekend up for a great finish.
Aaron went 2-4, including a home run in the eighth inning ahead of Gary Nolan on May 15 when Atlanta beat the Reds 3-1 in front of 27,220.
On Saturday, May 16, Aaron had two doubles to place him in the Reds 2-0 win from just 15,382 in 2,999 hits.
Aaron’s historic day at Crosley Field on May 17 began when he was hit in four runs without a hit in the double header’s first game, which the Reds won 5-1.
In the second game, Aaron hit an inside fastball for a grounder over second base that second baseman Woody Woodward knocked down near the outfield grass. Aaron safely reached for number 3,000.
Stan Musial – the youngest player to score 3,000 before Aaron – and Braves President Bill Bartholomay presented the ball to Aaron during the game.
Aaron said the fact that the late Musial was there for the milestone and congratulating him was “probably one of the greatest thrills of my life”.
36-year-old Aaron also scored his 570th home run in the third inning. He finished the second game in a 3v5 win when the Reds beat the Braves 7-6 in 15 innings.
Only Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (608-15 May) had more home runs at this time. Mays joined the club on July 18, 1970 with 3,000 hits.
Today the ball and Aaron’s bat are out of his 3,000. Hit exhibited in the Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown.
The Reds moved to Riverfront Stadium shortly after Aaron’s milestone and the right fielder hit the first home run at Riverfront Stadium during the inaugural game on June 30, 1970 – his 577th home run of his career.
“I remember being the first player to do a home run at this stadium,” Aaron told The Enquirer. “I guess you could say I was a little lucky. I was a little lucky. It was a good ballpark.”
Aaron also had two bats as right-backs in the All-Star game on July 14, 1970, also at Riverfront Stadium.
Aaron doesn’t remember much about the 1970 All-Star Game, but said he does remember the huge crowds on opening day in Cincinnati over the years.
Aaron made his Major League debut on Opening Day, April 13, 1954, before 33,185 at Crosley Field. Aaron went 5-0 in that game, including 3-0 against Joe Nuxhall.
“Cincinnati always had some very good pitchers,” Aaron told The Enquirer. “… I remember Joe Nuxhall, of course.”
Ironically, Aaron had his 100th home run on August 15, 1957 in Crosley. Aaron also won the World Series with the Milwaukee Braves that year. He won his only MVP award in ’57 – the National League award.
Brennaman said he has the ultimate respect for Aaron as a player and person.
“With all due respect, I still recognize Henry Aaron as the king of all time,” Brennaman said.