Aaron reunited with “kid” baserunners who joined him for 715th

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Cliff Courtney sits to Aaron's right, Britt Gaston to his left. Courtesy of Atlanta Braves

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.”

35 comments Add your comment

BravesfaninWis

August 27th, 2010
7:41 pm

Hate to say it but I am going to.

The rest of this league has figured Tommy Hanson out and he is actually our achillies heal and not our ace like he was supposed to be.

The ace of this staff is no question Tim Hudson. If anyone argues that with Hanson, just look at his numbers this year, he is not fooling anyone on any team. He looks completely lost this season.

RHR

August 27th, 2010
7:52 pm

I have often wondered what became of those 2 guys. Good on Hank for inviting them for a reunion.

Somebody

August 27th, 2010
7:53 pm

Hank Aaron – the REAL home run king. Barry who?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Don

August 27th, 2010
8:03 pm

Haha. Look at the pathetic team in action. Nothing changed from Denver. What’s the excuse now. Atl is 1/5 as high as Denver?
Watch your manager leave little tommy in for several innings and a 8+ run deficit.

Nope

August 27th, 2010
8:03 pm

Hanson is the achilles heal? A 23-yr old making about 400k with a 3.5 ERA is an achilles heal? Think you missed the mark on that one.

Hanson is not fooling anyone on any team? He has a 2.14 ERA and a WHIP below 1.10 in his last 10 starts. If no team is fooled by him, why has he put up HOF stats in the past two months. Think you screwed that one up as well.

The ace of this staff is Hudson? You got this one right. Now, anyone over the age of two years knows this, but pat yourself on the back.

Alan

August 27th, 2010
8:03 pm

Which is why I said they should have traded him a few weeks ago to get a bat.

Justafan

August 27th, 2010
8:05 pm

What has happen to Braves? Hanson in 2 gave up 4 runs and looking bad. How long does Bobby go with him before he gets pulled? When its to late to win?
How many games lately have we been ahead before the 8 and 9 ending?
Not worth watching ..Falcons are better tonight.

Alan

August 27th, 2010
8:06 pm

Watch what happens to him throughout the rest of the season nope. Compare his era going forward. That is what you look at. And it isn’t looking good.

Scott

August 27th, 2010
8:10 pm

Derrek lee has been a dreadful pickup. Bring Troy back. He had at least 4 homers in 2 weeks before the trade. Another stupid move by wren. The guy has back problems and is having a bad year and you get him thinking all that will change? What is his average? .125? It’s not like he moved to another league. Just a dumb trade I never liked at all.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Tavis

August 27th, 2010
8:17 pm

Carroll, I loved this article. That event is one of the best pictures in American Civil Rights history. To see an African American man who’s life was threatened during the homerun chase, being congratuated by two young white men shows the class and integrity of humanity.

Revisting that moment always gives me goosebumps and satisfaction. Well done.

Don

August 27th, 2010
8:18 pm

Bwahahaha. Look at this team. LMAO.
Falling apart. Maybe the marlins can win the division!! go Fish. beat this POS booby cox crap team.

BravesfaninWis

August 27th, 2010
8:29 pm

Tommy Hanson is about to go 2 games under .500 thus far on the season and has been smacked around quite a bit this season. He is not the achillies heal of this team, that is Derek Lowe’s title, but Tommy Hanson is far from being a dominating staff ace that everyone has labeled him to be.

Sorry Nope, but Tommy Hanson has not fooled much of anyone this season. Do you watch every game? I do, I have Direct TV with the MLB package so I am able to watch every start of his.

I will give myself a pat on the back because I am 32 years old and have backed this team since I was 6 growing up in Florida and watching their spring training games and getting my picture taken with Bob Horner and Dale Murphy. Can you say the same thing? I didn’t think so.

Carroll Rogers

August 27th, 2010
8:48 pm

Hadn’t thought of it that way Tavis, but eloquently put.

Chuckles™

August 27th, 2010
9:34 pm

Great Story.

I had always wondered if the two guys were running with Henry to help screen him from a potential shooter. Most of the accounts of the events of that period I’ve read said that the death threats he received at the time were taken very seriously by the authorities.

As for as I’m concerned, Henry Aaron is the best player I’ve ever seen. Yes, Ruth, Bonds, Mays, ARod all take a back seat. Mr. Aaron was the best. And still is. God Bless you, sir.

bmoney

August 27th, 2010
9:37 pm

Sorry Tavis and Carroll – I hate that moment. For everything Henry Aaron had to endure in life and in baseball, he deserved that moment to himself. He earned it. Those 2 had nothing to do with it. They did nothing to deserve to be on that field in that moment.

Mike

August 27th, 2010
9:40 pm

Carroll,

In “light” of the Hinske play in left field earlier in the game, do you think there’s any chance that the Braves might actually light the outfield like a Major League field someday instead of a Dekalb County park?

My kid plays on little league fields with better lighting.

OldSnarky

August 27th, 2010
9:42 pm

Hank Aaron..Greatest Homerun Hitter of all time…PERIOD! Barry is NOT the homerun king.
Thanks Hammerin’ Hank for some great memories at the old Atlanta Stadium. I have followed you since you were a rookie in Milwaukee. You were good back then and you are good now. You did it cleanly. There is no room for cheaters or dopers in MLB.

Bama falcon

August 27th, 2010
10:17 pm

Henry was always our favorite brave, and is still the all time homerun leader, and as for the two that followed him around the base paths, they needed their @ss’s whipped!!!

sean

August 27th, 2010
10:19 pm

ya’ll are the worst fans in the world. you all suck. GO braves win or lose im still a fan, not just when they are winning. Hanson has not been “figured out” smolts,glavine and maddox all struggled at times. Oh yea and dont forget they are still in first place. What do they have to go 162-0 for ya’ll to be happy?

Tommy

August 27th, 2010
10:20 pm

I was there April 8, 1974 and have the ticket stub to prove it. Wow what a moment! We bought tickets for the entire home stand and enjoyed every minute of it. Hank crossed the color barrier with his kindness and it the homerun king.

Jim Ragan

August 27th, 2010
11:28 pm

Hank Aaron is a true class act. Statistics-wise, Barry Bonds may have the most Home Runs overall, but the true Home Run “King” will always be Hammerin’ Hank!

Bas Tid

August 27th, 2010
11:33 pm

Those 2 are idiots. They were idiots then, and they are idiots now. No publicity or positive mention should ever be made regarding their stupid stunt. And, BTW, just for the record: Aaron, a surly player, took 3000 more at bats than did Babe Ruth to hit as many home runs. According to Ted Williams, Ruth was the greatest slugger of all time. His opinion has a lot more merit than that of deluded Atlanta pimps.

Ted Striker

August 27th, 2010
11:35 pm

Nice column.

These two guys just got caught up in the moment and Mr. Aaron — those of who know him call him that — understands it. I just hope that Billye lets him keep working a while longer. She wants him home more.

He was a gentleman ballplayer in times that weren’t always gentlemanly.

Carroll Rogers

August 27th, 2010
11:37 pm

bmoney, i know plenty of people who agree with you. And I understand what you’re saying too. I don’t have really strong feelings about it either way.

John

August 27th, 2010
11:40 pm

It really doesn’t matter who is pitching. When we play the Marlins we are in trouble. We can’t beat them. I don’t know why, but we have more trouble with them and the Nationals than we do with the Phillies and the Mets. We better find a way to beat these two if we are going to the post season

Steve From Dalton

August 28th, 2010
6:19 am

I thought the guys running on the field ruined the moment. We wanted to see Henry Aaron take the run around the bases like a victory lap to have his time alone on the stage. What we got was a couple of hippies trying to make the night about them and take away from the awesome feat. The last leg of an incredible journey that was tainted by a couple of gate crashers.

rfgh

August 28th, 2010
7:18 am

Yes, Aaron was subjected to rascism in the worst way. But, he would not have had the opportunity and adulation he did if the majority of fans had not respected him as a man and great ballplayer. The racist get all the attention, though, don’t they? Many of Aaron’s comments over the years show his own rascism which has tarnished his image in my eyes.

Nope

August 28th, 2010
8:04 am

BravesfaninWis,
Thank you. In the first post, you mentioned that Hanson was the Achilles heel. You were called out for it. You then replied that you were wrong and he was not the Achilles heel.
You were probably just frustrated.

Stcole

August 28th, 2010
8:25 am

I heard this before and probably do not have it exactly right, but the meaning is true. “The Babe did it on hot dogs and beer and The Hammer did it with dignity. And Barry, a very good player, but in reality a guy with a chip on his shoulder and a drug (steroids) addict.”

Aaron, Ruth, and Mays are the best power hitters of all time.

Aaron is a class act

August 28th, 2010
9:26 am

I was there. Frankly, it was scary, with all the death threats Henry Aaron had, that these two clowns somehow got on the field.
Aaron is a true class act. He is the Home Run King. He did it with class, courage, and athletic ability-no drugs. And, you know, he does not mention race in every sentence. I do not look at him as a black man, but as a man.
The fact that he would even give credence to these guys at all shows how humble he has always been.

scottbravesfan

August 28th, 2010
5:04 pm

BravesfaninWis,

Did you seriously just use a pitcher’s record to determine his value? Seriously? Good god man get with the times. Hanson has been great the last 10 starts with an ERA in the 2’s and extremely low WHIP. He got no run support and Billy Wagner blew three straight wins for him. And just prove how stupid wins and loses are for a pitcher on those games that Wagner blew, he got the win and Hanson got nothing. So someone who fails to do their job is rewarded? Please.

AFDawg

August 31st, 2010
10:55 pm

bmoney and Steve from Dalton. I look at it another way, who remembers McGuires or Bonds record breaking jaunts around the bases — no one. The picture of Hammerin’ Hank rounding the bases that night will forever be forged in everyone’s mind because of his two escorts — uniquely set apart from all others. I agree with everyone too — just like Elvis will always be the King of Rock, and Richard Petty the King of NASCAR — Hank Aaron will always be remembered as the Home Run King.

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September 25th, 2013
6:23 pm

Aaron reunited with “kid” baserunners who joined him for 715th | Atlanta Braves
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