On this day, 42 years ago, the world was fixated on a baseball stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
Henry Louis Aaron, 40 years old from Mobile, Alabama and in his 21st season with the Braves, was on the cusp of immortality. He was co-owner of arguably the most hallowed record in all of sports with the legendary Sultan of Swat, Colossus of Clout (and a hundred other dopey names). Standing in his way was Al Downing and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Atlanta Stadium was packed to the brim. 53,775 screaming fans waited on pins and needles to witness history, while NBC was there to broadcast the event nationwide. Even Peanuts creator Charles Schulz got in on the action: In August 1973, Schulz published a series of strips detailing Snoopy's quest to break Ruth's record. Not everyone was happy for Hammerin' Hank, however. Mountains of hate mail and death threats caused Hank to require armed guards accompanying him, while his children required police escorts to school...all because a black man was threatening the Babe's home run record.
Fortunately, Hank persevered and on April 8, 1974 (a Monday), Hank took his swing at history. At approximately 9:07 p.m. ET, Hank stood alone at the top, having just deposited Downing's 1-0 pitch - Downing would say it was a sinker that didn't sink - over the left field wall.
Hank became the Home Run King that day. Some may say he no longer is since Barry eclipsed his record in 2007, but he's still #1 with us.