This day in sports history, Apr. 23, 1954, Hank Aaron hit his first home run off of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Vic Raschi. The home run would be the first of many, with the Hall of Famer holding the MLB career home run record of 755, for 33 years.
Hank Aaron, an Alabama native, started his career as a prospect for MLB teams, but ended up playing in Negro and minor leagues through the Braves. Despite this, he was quickly moved up to the starting Braves lineup in under two years. After 1954, Aaron managed to hit at least 24 home runs every single year until 1973.
In 1957, Aaron clinched a playoff berth for the Milwaukee Braves in a game-ending home run. Soon after, he helped to bring a World Series to the Braves over the New York Yankees, with a repeat loss coming in 1958.
Later in his career, Hank Aaron became the chaser of Babe Ruth’s standing career home runs record. Although Aaron did not make a big deal out of the ordeal, the player still dealt with tons of fan excitement leading up to the broken record. At the last game of the 1973 season, Aaron fell a mere one home run short of the record, claiming he was terrified he wouldn’t live until the 1974 season.
Going into the 1974 season, the Braves organization wanted Aaron to break the record in Atlanta, however the commissioner ruled he would have to play two out of three games in Cincinnati. Despite tying the record on his first swing of the series, he would save the final home run for home. During the fourth inning, Hank Aaron would hit the record breaking home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, a home run that caused celebration and fireworks from the stadium from friends, fans and family.
Hank Aaron would hit his final 755th home run on Jul. 20, 1976, holding the Major League career home run record until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007.