What’s a celebration of baseball without an excuse to go back in time? Maybe this is how Hank Aaron should have won his first home run in the exclusive company of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Roger Maris?
The Atlanta Braves, the 81-year-old team Atlanta did not celebrate, were the original “best when it matters” winners for many ballplayers. Now, the team that’s appeared in four World Series in the last six years — in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 — is celebrating the anniversary of a visit to Atlanta in the early 1970s.
On Friday evening, fans gathered in a sports arena where the Braves had trained when they began to ascend to the top of the baseball world. Before the game between the Braves and Boston Red Sox — one in which Atlanta won 8-1 in four innings — a video memorial to Mr. Aaron played before the Braves’ starting lineup was announced.
As Mr. Aaron’s image appeared in both black and white and video, fans shot pictures with their phones. SportsCenter reporter Michael Smith from the deck of the Braves’ stadium was there taking photos.
“I’m loving the vibe,” he said. “I’m loving the affection.”
Mr. Aaron, who made his debut in June 1967 as a 26-year-old, died on March 24, 2017. He broke Babe Ruth’s homer record with 755 in 1974 and holds the record for most career home runs.
The celebration of baseball in Atlanta comes against the backdrop of other big celebrations of past players this year, including Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductions, a future Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., and a Major League Baseball celebration of Jackie Robinson’s life that’s expected to take place in Washington in late August.
Last year, Rangers’ infielder Jurickson Profar became the first player to homer in all four of the Rangers’ postseason games. This year, the Red Sox will have outfielder Mookie Betts, whose home run in a Game 2 victory over Houston last fall has gone viral.
So will Mr. Aaron.