Cliff Courtenay and Britt Gaston flanked Hank Aaron Friday afternoon, like they infamously did running around the bases when he hit his record-breaking 715th home run.
Gone were their thick dark hair, sideburns, bell-bottom jeans and wide-eyed looks of 17-year-olds. Now aged 53 and 54, Courtenay and Gaston wore khakis, white hair and have teenaged kids of their own.
The two old high school friends who ran down on the field on the night of April 8, 1974 were reunited Friday on an invitation from Aaron, who wanted a chance to sit down and chat with the two he helped make famous.
“Every place I’ve gone no matter where I’ve been, the picture follows me around,” said Aaron, who said he even saw it once in Japan. “I didn’t know you guys spent that kind of night in jail. It was a lot of fun really. Time really does fly by.”
Gaston’s father, who had been at the game, bailed them out of jail that night for $100 apiece.
“That’s called thinking with a 17-year-old brain,” Courtenay said.
Gaston and Aaron had met before during a re-enactment of the famous homer moment in 1984. All three were reunited for the filming of the “Chasing a Dream” documentary, but said it was only for a few minutes.
Courtenay, now an optometrist in Valdosta, and Gaston, a businessman in Mount Pleasant, S.C. spent 45 minutes reminiscing with Aaron in his office at Turner Field then joined him for a press conference.
Aaron said he holds nothing against them for running onto the field, even in light of all the threats he received leading up to breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record.
“It didn’t take away anything, not then, not now,” Aaron said. “It was a moment that I will always remember. These two kids – I call them kids but they’re grown and successful men now – it was just two kids having fun.”