Did Hank Aaron Really Bail Out the Young Men Who Ran On to the Field When He Broke Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view past baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Hank Aaron bailed out the young men who ran on to the field when he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

One of the more striking changes in the way sporting events are celebrated in 2021 as opposed to 40-50 years ago is how the fans treat the borders of the field (not typically on their own volition, of course, but rather because the security of the arenas/stadiums force them to).

When the Celtics seemingly won Game 5 of the 1975 NBA Finals in double overtime, the referees had to clear the court of all the fans who rushed on to it to play the last few seconds of the period (the Celtics’ opponents, the Suns, ended up tying the game and sending it to a THIRD overtime, which the Celtics did eventually win).

In 1976, when Chris Chambliss’ game-winning home run against the Royals sent the New York Yankees to the World Series, he was mobbed by fans so much that I don’t believe he ever actually touched home plate that night.


It was just a much different period back then (and notably, charging the court/field is still a prominent part of college sports).

On April 8, 1974, Henry “Hank” Aaron broke the all-time home run record in Major League Baseball, which was long held by Babe Ruth.

Aaron’s 715th home run was hit in his home park in Atlanta (which the Braves were certainly hoping for) against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bill Buckner actually was playing left field that day and he made a valiant effort of trying to keep the ball from becoming a homer, but pitcher Al Downing became a part of the history books that day.


As Aaron rounded the bases, a few fans ran on to the field…


While I wouldn’t say Aaron was ANGRY at the fans, you could tell he was not exactly thrilled to see them on his trip around the bases, and when one of them tried to pat him on the back while he ran the bases, he swatted the hand away (you can only imagine what Aaron was thinking, especially as the guy had been receiving death threats over the possibility of him breaking the record – but he also likely knew that the teens were not actual threats – Aaron actually said as much over the years).

The fans were 17 year old high school seniors, Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtney. They were both from Waycross, Georgia. When they tried leaving the field, they were arrested by the police and charged with disorderly conduct.

Hank Aaron was known for being a nice man, a really good guy, so a story sprung up that Aaron actually traveled to the jail later to bail the two teens out of jail.

Is that true?

I really do not know where said story came from, but I saw it repeated a few places.

In any event, no, the father of Britt Gaston was also at the game, and he bailed out both teens later that night (after the boys spent three hours in an Atlanta jail cell).

So while, yes, Hank Aaron was a good guy, but he wasn’t THAT good!

STATUS: False.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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2 Responses to “Did Hank Aaron Really Bail Out the Young Men Who Ran On to the Field When He Broke Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record?”

  1. Just a couple of things: 1. Chambliss wasn’t able to touch third or home. Later that night he came back out on the field with the umps and touched the spots where third and home had been–they were dug up by fans. 2. Buckner wasn’t trying to catch the ball. I used to think this as well until I found out he was climbing the wall so that he could get the historic ball–but he stopped when he saw it was safe with Tom House.

  2. At 1:25 in this video of the end of the fifth and final game of the ALDS in New York, 8 year old me was somewhere on the field grabbing a handful of dirt and grass by second base. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEpZVxPM1Qw

    It was a different world back then. And that was nothing, at a single Red Sox/Yankees game in the 90’s I saw 7 huge fights, 3 fires in the stands and probably 20 people run on the field during the game. It was right before the mayor (Dinkins maybe) started really prosecuting people for trespassing.

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