JULY 20 IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF HANK AARON’S FINAL HR

It was a night game in Milwaukee and Hank Aaron was playing for the Brewers in the same city where he started his magnificent Hall of Fame career. That July 20, 1976 evening the guests were the California Angels.

There were just over 10,000 fans at County Stadium as these two sub-.500 teams met and it was the bottom of the 7th inning of a good game that had Milwaukee up, 2-1. Future Hall of Famer Robin Yount had made the final out in the bottom of the 6th, so Tim Johnson led off the 7th for the Brewers with his third single of the day. Johnson stole second and advanced to third when catcher Terry Humphrey (who had just entered the game) threw the ball into centerfield. Don Money hit a flyball to left, deep enough to drive home Johnson to make the score 3-1.

It didn’t stay that way for long

Up stepped George Scott to face another former Red Sox, Dick Drago. And true to his name, “The Boomer” boomed a homer. Then Aaron, who had been 0-3 in the game as the DH, made it a back-to-back event by lining a slider into the left field stands. It was Henry’s 755th and final home run and for many of us, it is the home run record that is the real deal.

The ball was caught by Richard Arndt, a part-time groundskeeper at the stadium and a fan of the Braves when they played in Milwaukee. According an article in the Los Angeles Times, Arndt wanted to hand the ball directly to Aaron.

“Instead, when summoned to the dugout after the game, Arndt says he was met by an equipment manager who told him that Aaron was busy packing for the Brewers’ impending trip and wouldn’t have time to meet with him. Arndt says he declined an offer of a bat, an autographed ball and a photo of Aaron.

The next day, he was told he’d been fired for confiscating club property — the ball — and discovered that his final paycheck had been docked $5.”

In 1999, Arndt, who had a variety of offers and somewhat dubious adventures, sold the ball for $650,000 to a Connecticut portfolio manager. Arndt donated 25% of the net proceeds, $155,000+ to Aaron’s Chasing the Dream Foundation, a charity that benefits underprivileged children.

Following that game

Hank played in 23 more games for the Brewers going 11-64 (.172) with 7 RBI, 16 walks, and 8 whiffs.

One more thing…

The cherry on top of this story is that the right fielder for the Angels that July 20, 1976 night was none other than Bobby Bonds, Barry’s dad.