Aaron was additionally a mentor to Baker, who joined Atlanta as a rookie in 1968 and performed seven years with Aaron — he was the on-deck batter when Aaron hit his 715th dwelling run on April 8, 1974. They remained very shut buddies and Baker usually cites recommendation Aaron gave him and different teammates. Earlier than the sport, Baker famous that it was an odd, somber expertise for him to return to Atlanta and never see Aaron there.
“This is the most different kind of feeling that I’ve had, that you can’t describe,” Baker stated, “because I’m happy to be back here, but I’m sad to be back here for the first time — other than Hank’s funeral — without Hank.”
Baker gave every of Aaron’s kids a hug on the mound, after which Hank Aaron Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Atlanta’s star first baseman, Freddie Freeman, who stated earlier than the sport that he had chills pondering of what the ceremony could be like.
“Whoever came in contact with him, he made you feel love,” Freeman stated. “I wish he was here to be able to watch this.”
The tribute was transient, partially as a result of crew and M.L.B. organizers stated they believed that Aaron, a modest and understated celebrity, would have needed the main focus to be on the gamers and the sport and never on him.