ATLANTA — It’s one of the most iconic sports photos of all time: Hammerin’ Hank Aaron running the bases after hitting the record-breaking 715th home run at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Behind him, two men who somehow made it onto the field patting his back and congratulating him for breaking Babe Ruth’s record.
More than 46 years later, that image is back on everyone’s mind as the world mourns the death of Hank Aaron.
So whatever happened to the two men who inadvertently made history with Hank? The two men were Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtenay.
The two friends were only 17 when they jumped onto the field along the first-base line and caught up with Aaron.
In 2010, Gaston and Courtenay finally got to meet Aaron to reminisce about the unforgettable moment.
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“It’s wonderful to see them,’' Aaron said in an interview with the Associates Press in 2010. “I often get asked, ‘Whatever happened to those two guys?’ It’s nice to see them once again and know they’re doing fine, doing well.’'
Gaston said the two teens were caught after running onto the field and spent the night in jail.
“The older you get, the more you think about it,’' Aaron said. “I’m just glad things worked out the way they did. It could have been a lot worse. They were having fun with it as kids. They didn’t get beat up and all that. I think they spent two or three hours in jail. Other than that, it was a happy moment.’'
Flash forward to this month, the happy moments will now live on as happy memories.
Courtenay, who lives in Valdosta, wrote a tribute to Aaron on Facebook, describing his “personal integrity and quiet dignity.”
“The negativity, hypocrisy, dishonesty and petty divisiveness that exist today stand in stark contrast to your example of personal integrity and quiet dignity. Accomplishment despite adversity and grace under pressure....you walked the walk,” Courtenay wrote.
Gaston, who lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, died a few years ago from cancer, according to a friend’s Facebook post. In a loving tribute to Gaston, the friend said she hoped he “catches up with the Greatest ever and gets a heavenly autograph.”
Cox Media Group