The Braves unveiled SunTrust Park’s new statue of Hank Aaron at a ceremony Wednesday night, a nine-foot-tall re-creation of the magical moment when bat met ball 43 years ago for Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run.
The statue’s height is “fitting,” Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said, “because Hank has always been larger than life. Not to mention, he probably looked that tall to many opposing pitchers.”
The unveiling of the statue drew oohs and aahs and applause at a fund-raiser for the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation.
The statue becomes the centerpiece of the new ballpark’s Monument Garden, a well-appointed space that celebrates Braves history on the main concourse behind home plate.
The statue, created and unveiled by Atlanta-based artist Ross Rossin, was a hit with Aaron.
“It’s really a beautiful statue,” he said in an interview with the AJC after the unveiling.
Aaron added that he had seen it only once before Wednesday, last year when it was still a work in progress, but offered no suggestions.
“I knew I couldn’t add anything to it,” Aaron said.
Aaron also was touched that about 250 people paid $500 per person or $755 per couple to attend the unveiling event and support the work of his foundation, which encourages and rewards academic achievement and endows four-year college scholarships for deserving youth.
“Just to see all these people come out — you have to remember that I have been out of baseball a long time,” Aaron said. “And to have all these people show up and recognize me as though I was part of their ballclub last year or two years ago…”
The Braves commissioned the statue after a dispute erupted over where Turner Field’s Aaron statue would be located after the team’s move to Cobb County. The original statue will remain downtown as part of Georgia State’s redevelopment of The Ted.
The new statue captures the moment on April 8, 1974, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium when Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing career home-run record.
McGuirk called Aaron “one of the greatest sports legends the world has ever seen,” “a national treasure” and “our home run champion.”