Even on the 40th anniversary of one of baseball’s most memorable and important moments, Vin Scully’s call of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run is not played as much nationally as Curt Gowdy’s and Milo Hamilton’s but, as always, it painted the best pictures.
Nearly all of the game’s most memorable and significant home runs have occurred against the Dodgers. Bobby Thompson’s The Shot Heard ‘Round the World in 1951 (Thompson may have stolen signs). Reggie Jackson’s third home run in the World Series at Yankee Stadium in the 1977 World Series. Kirk Gibson’s in the 1988 World Series (for Dodger fans: Rick Monday’s at Olympic Stadium and Mike Scioscia’s at Shea Stadium). Barry Bonds’ 71st and 73rd home runs. Cal Ripken’s home run off of Chan Ho Park at the All-Star Game. Fernando Tatis’s two grand slams in one inning. And so on.
Aaron, though, is still considered to be the Home Run King by many baseball fans and purists because Bonds hit his 756th in the Steroid Era. That wasn’t always the case, as some Americans were openly rooting against Aaron as he was pursuing Ruth’s record, sending him death threats and making him fearful that he could be assassinated on the baseball diamond.
Forty years later, Aaron compared Republicans who opposed President Barack Obama’s policies to the KKK, saying they wear “neckties and starched shirts” instead of hoods. Never mind that the modern Democratic party embraced and elevated top KKK leaders the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV).
When he hit his 715th off of Dodgers hurler Al Downing, Vin Scully said that it was “a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.”
“A black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol,” Vin continued. “And it is a great moment for all of us and particularly for Henry Aaron who was met at home plate not only by every member of the Braves but by his father and mother…”
Vin told his listeners that as “Aaron circled the bases, the Dodgers on the infield shook his hand. And that was a memorable moment. For the first time in a long time that poker face of Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”
“It is over,” Vin said. “At 10 minutes after nine, in Atlanta, Georgia, Henry Aaron has eclipsed the mark set by Babe Ruth.”
Listen to more of Vin’s magic below. Images aren’t necessary. Vin the wordsmith paints the pictures.