NORMAN — Everything’s bigger in childhood, so feel free to disagree, but the greatest moment in the history of sports occurred 40 years ago today at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run off Los Angeles lefty Al Downing.
I give back Miracle on Ice, because what exactly is the moment?
Is it Mark Johnson’s goal with a second left in the first period, Buzz Schneider’s slap from the point that shouldn’t have found the net, Mike Eruzione’s game winner or the question Al Michaels, who’d never called hockey until that Olympic tournament, asked the nation as time ran out.
“Do you believe in miracles?”
And then answered.
I give back Borg and McEnroe’s fourth-set tiebreaker, the course of events that took the Suns and Celtics to triple overtime in 1976’s Game 5, any Ali moment you can come up with, though he wins for best career, and while there might be a case for Joe Louis’ 1938 first-round Yankee Stadium knockout of Max Schmeling, there’s the pesky matter of my not being alive yet.
The only one I don’t give back is Secretariat’s 1973 Belmont run. That one, I merely rank second, when a horse brought a nation at war with itself together.
And, anyway, what happened to Aaron was sort of a miracle, too, but we’ll let somebody else explain that here in a minute.
Aaron, who is 80, spoke to the Associated Press about the celebration planned in Atlanta tonight, before the Braves face the Mets.
He’s always been modest, and he was again speaking about his moment and career.
“I’m not going to go around bragging about certain things,” he said. “I played the game because I loved the game … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”