Today is the anniversary of Aaron’s 715. I was a kid and I remember it very well. We were a Willy Mays household, what with dad being a NY Giants fan and then the Mets. Aaron wasn’t someone we were too conscious of but when he was breaking the record, there was no escaping it. The talk was usually that Mays played in the Polo Grounds and Candlestick, which robbed him of many homers. Also Mays (660 HR’s) lost 1952 & 1953 to the Army in the Korean era, and he was a cinch for 25 or 30 Hr’s so that would have made the record Mays’ (ie 660 + 60 = 712) already. So there was that humbug about it.
But on the night that he hit the 715th, they put the game on. It is hard for kids to imagine, but we didn’t have games on every night. We didn’t see much baseball on TV. You had your game of the week and the home teams and that was it. So I wanted to watch the game but I had homework, I recall. And my parents made me sit and do that at the dining room table. I procrastinated until game time, so when the game was on, there I sat. But in our house, the TV could be seen in the reflection of the glass china cabinet–it allowed you to see around a corner. So I saw the homer hit in the reflection of the china cabinet, and when you watch baseball a the mirror, a batter will run the bases in reverse! Aaron ran to 3rd and then 2nd and when the kids were hassling him (congratulating they thought), he was rounding first and going clockwise. How many others in America saw it that way? Not sure.
Compilation records always struck me as anticlimactic. We watch sports because we like the real-life soap opera of watching real people play under a great deal of pressure for a pile of cash. Outcome is in doubt. With a record of this sort, there’s no doubt–it’s going to happen. The only question is when. I find that completely boring. Celebrate the milestone, sure, but don’t tell me it’s Oct 3rd, 1951 either.