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#715: The home run that forever linked legends Hank Aaron and Milo Hamilton

When Hank Aaron’s 715th home run launched over the left-field wall at the Atlanta Brave’s ballpark in 1974, it was the late Milo Hamilton who made the iconic call.

ATLANTA — “Here's the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There's a drive into left-center field. That ball is going to be out of here! IT'S GONE! IT'S 715! There's a new home run champion of all-time! And it's Henry Aaron!"

It was April 8, 1974 and Hank Aaron had done something many thought impossible by breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.

The voice behind the historic homer -- one of baseball’s biggest milestones -- was then WSB Radio announcer Milo Hamilton.

RELATED: Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has died at the age of 86

Hamilton went on to become the Astros legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster. He retired in 2012, after a storied 55-year career. But the Aaron home run call would always be his biggest.

On the 40th anniversary in 2014, Hamilton shared memories with mlb.com writer Brian McTaggart.

"I don't know where those 40 years went," Hamilton told McTaggart. "I still remember the day as clear as it were yesterday."

Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter and Sammy Davis Jr. were among the record crowd hoping to witness history that day at the Braves home opener.

Excited fans all over the country gathered around radios to listen to the game.

"Henry Aaron, in the second inning walked and scored. He's sittin' on 714,” Hamilton said when Aaron came to the plate in the fourth inning. 

When the ball sailed over the left field fence and into the Braves' bullpen, the crowd went wild. 

Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter and Sammy Davis Jr. were among the record crowd hoping to witness history that day at the Braves home opener.

Excited fans all over the country gathered around radios to listen to the game.

There were fireworks and cannons and even two college students who somehow got on the field and ran the bases with Aaron. Dodgers fielders high-fived him and Braves teammates mobbed him at the plate.

What most people, including Hamilton, didn’t know at the time was that Aaron had received racist hate mail and even threats as he approached the beloved Ruth’s record.

RELATED: Houstonians say goodbye to Milo Hamilton

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"I grew up in the '30s when Ruth was the biggest thing -- not only in sports -- but in the country and the world," Hamilton told McTaggart. "When Aaron announced in '72 he was going for it, some eyebrows got lifted. That started the media onslaught everywhere he went. We didn't know what was going on at the time about all the vicious hate mail. We found that out afterwards.”

The Dodgers' Vin Skully made reference to the racial tension in the South in his own radio broadcast that day.

"What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world," Skully said. "A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron."

Hamilton said he and Aaron stayed closed through the years.

The slugger, who spent his later years as an activist and philanthropist, attended Hamilton’s retirement dinner at Minute Maid Park in 2012.

After the broadcaster's death in 2015, Aaron was among the many who paid tribute.

"Milo and I were friends for many years. I had great respect for him and his knowledge of baseball. For me, he was in the class with Vin Scully.”

If there’s a baseball diamond and broadcast booth in heaven, the old friends will likely meet again soon to talk about that day that and how it forever changed their lives.