“My motto was always to keep swinging.”
Hank Aaron’s motto described a lifelong obsession, a lifelong chase for greatness. However, the legendary Milwaukee Brave and Brewer wasn’t connecting as often with his swing in his final season. His 1976 batting average ended up .076 lower than his career average, and he only hit 10 home runs that year.
Aaron, a part time player that year, hit home runs on July 9 an 11, but then didn’t hit one in the nine days (four games) before the Brewers’ contest with the California Angels at County Stadium on July 20.
In Aaron’s first three at bats of the evening against Dick Drago, the then-all time home run king placed two flyouts and a strikeout on the scorecard.
But in the seventh inning, he came to the plate following a sacrifice fly by Don Money and a home run by George Scott in the previous at bats.
Bobby Bonds. the father of the man who overtook Aaron in the career home run standings, was only able to turn his neck from his perch in right field and watch as Aaron slammed a solo shot far into the stands down the left field line for home run number 755 – his last in the Major Leagues.
Fans can find a plaque marked in the ground in the Miller Park parking lot east of Helfaer Field at the spot where Aaron’s final home run landed.
Though he played 23 more games in 1976, Aaron did not launch any more shots into the outfield stands.
Aaron had his last game in a Major League uniform 75 days later on October 3, when the Brewers hosted Detroit. In the 6th inning, Aaron slapped an RBI single to score 1982 Brewers defensive hero Charlie Moore.
He was taken out and replaced at designated hitter with Hartland’s own 1982 Brewers hero Jim Gantner. Aaron returned to the dugout, leaving a Major League field for the last time, with the sport’s home run and RBI records – and a lifetime of memories for millions of baseball fans – in his possession.