Tuesday March 29, 2016
Opening Day is around the corner so I thought I'd offer the above shot, taken by my father, of the all-time homerun king, Hank Aaron, at Met Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. There was a cool little phenomenon about homerun kings back then. Aaron finished his career in the city where he began (Milwaukee) but with a different team (the Brewers rather than the Braves), just as Willie Mays had finished up his career in New York with the Mets rather than the Giants, and Babe Ruth had finished in Boston with the Braves rather than the Red Sox.
Bonds screwed up this tradition, of course. The least of the traditions he screwed up.
Anyway, because Aaron signed with the Brewers, it gave me, an American League kid, a chance to finally see him play in person. That's why we went. That's why a lot of people went. Those stands along the third base/left field side were rarely this packed.
Here's what I remember: I wanted to see Aaron hit a homer, and he did, and I wanted the Twins to win, and they did.
Not much to go on, but I figured, with Baseball Reference's vast resources, that would be enough to figure out which number homerun this was for Aaron. How many homers could Aaron have hit at Met Stadium anyway?
Two, it turns out.
Right, but how many did he hit in games in which the Twins came back to win?
Two, it turns out. Both games wound up 8-7, Twins. The first in May 1975, the second in August. So at least we had a year.
It's a little blurry but the pitcher on the mound for the Twins appears to be a right-hander. Any luck there?
Nope. On May 17, 1975, Aaron homered off Ray Corbin, a righty in the top of the 5th to put the Brewers up 6-2. Twins scored six runs in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings to win it. On August 11, 1975, Aaron homered off of Tom Johnson, a righty, in the top of the 3rd to put the Brew Crew on top 7-3. Twins scored five more on two homeruns (Eric Soderholm, Steve Braun) to win it.
But I assumed this was from the May 17 game. Why would my father wait until August to see him? Wouldn't we go the first chance we got?
I also remember being somewhat optimistic about the Twins chances after the come-from-behind win. That would make more sense in May, when we were 15-15, 4 1/2 games back, rather than in August, when we were 53-65, 19 games back.
Then the more obvious clue hit me. Saturday, May 17 was a day game, Monday, August 11 was a night game. It stays light pretty late in August, but... Nah. The above pic was obviously taken in the middle of the day. It's May 17, 1975.
And that's homerun #738 for Aaron. He would hit 17 more.
It's not every day you get to see someone hit their 738th career homerun. Thanks, Dad.