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Hank Aaron’s final home run

Hammerin’ Hank hit his 755th and final homer on this day 40 years ago

Editor’s Note: Hank Aaron died at age 86 on Jan. 22, 2021.

It was a beautiful 73 degrees in Milwaukee on July 20, 1976. In their sixth season in the city, the Milwaukee Brewers played host to the California Angels for a night game.

Only 10,134 spectators – 21 percent capacity – were in County Stadium that day to witness designated hitter Hank Aaron’s 755th and final home run, a record that stood for 31 years.

Hammerin’ Hank was 42 when he entered his 23rd and final season in the majors. Going into that game, the future Hall of Famer was batting .246 and had only nine home runs.

Aaron, who batted fourth in the rotation that day, couldn’t hit against Angels right-handed starter Gary Ross, who got him to fly out to left in the bottom of the first and to second base in the third inning. Then right-handed middle reliever Dick Drago struck Aaron out in the fifth.

With the Brewers adding two runs to take a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning, Aaron faced Drago again, who had just given up a home run to first baseman George Scott. Hammerin’ Hank belted the ball over the left-field wall for No. 755.

Milwaukee won, 6-2. Aaron had already achieved baseball immortality when he hit No. 715 and broke Babe Ruth’s record during the 1974 season – his 21st and final year with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. But 40 years ago today, he showed he still had the power to clear the fence for the last time.

The home run was caught by Brewers’ groundskeeper Richard Arndt. He was only in Milwaukee for that one summer, a very profitable summer as time wore on and Hammerin’ Hank’s legend grew. Arndt sold the ball for $650,000 in 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2007.

With 2 1/2 months left in that season, no one expected that home run to be the 21-time All-Star’s final long ball. Aaron played only 85 games that season due to knee injuries.

He remains at the top of the leaderboard for his 2,297 runs batted in, 6,856 total bases and 21 All-Star game appearances, according to Baseball-Reference.

Aaron played against Bobby Bonds – the father of the man who would break his record 31 years later – in that 1976 game. On Aug. 7, 2007, Barry Bonds, blasted his 756th home run as a member of the San Francisco Giants to surpass Aaron. Bonds hit 762 homers before he retired, though his career achievements have been tainted by his repeated links to performance-enhancing drug use.

In 1982, Aaron, now 82, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He received 406 of 415 (97.8 percent) first-ballot votes, the seventh most first-ballot votes in history.

Each year since 1999, the top offensive player in the American and National League are given the Hank Aaron Award. Aaron also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2002.

Aaron, who is the senior vice president in the Braves organization, made a special appearance at Turner Field on June 24. The Braves are counting down the home games until their move into their new Cobb County abode. With just 43 games left, Aaron came out to pull down his legendary number No. 44 on the outfield wall.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.