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Hammer Nails One

With all the hullaboo over Barry Bonds that's sure to come this spring and summer, lest we forget the accomplishments of home run king Hank Aaron, who turns 73 this February 5.

Super would seem to be an appropriate word to describe Hank Aaron as a hitter today and Aaron performed quite well against the Mets, hitting .295 with 45 home runs against them.

The 650th home run of Aaron's career came on June 13, 1972, and it came in a game that would probably still bug us to this day, had we been around to see it.

The Mets at this time were in a battle for first place in the NL East, legit contenders or so it seemed based on early-season success, so each game was rather vital. They entered against the Braves having lost seven of 10 and clinging to a tie for first by a thin thread. The result that followed was probably not all that surprising given the circumstances.

The Mets had control of this game through the first seven-and-a-half innings. Tom Seaver homered in support of his effort and carried a 5-2 lead into the last of the eighth. With one out and nobody on base, Aaron hit a harmless fly ball to left center field. Tommie Agee, stuck in a defensive rut after having made two errors in his previous game, made another miscue here, dropping what would have been the second out. Aaron ended up on second base, but Rico Carty's groundout that followed should have ended the inning.

Instead, Seaver got into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles, cutting the lead to 5-3 and putting the tying run on base. The next batter was Dusty Baker, who hit one of the drives that Agee muffed previously. This time, Baker hit one long and hard to centerfield. Agee leapt and got a glove on it, but couldn't hang on (shades of Shawn Green and Scott Spiezio), and the result was a game-tying two-run triple. Seaver got out of the jam thanks to Baker, who tried to steal home and was subsequently tagged out.

The Mets went down helplessly in both the ninth and 10th, and with Seaver out of the game, the Braves had the advantage. With one out in the last of the 10th, Aaron came up again. This time he delivered against Danny Frisella (whose nickname, appropriately enough on this day, was "Bear"), hitting the first pitch over the left field fence to give the Braves the win, knocking the Mets out of first place in the process. It marked the only time in Aaron's career that he beat the Mets with a walk-off home run.

True Metrons know...The Braves went 13-5 in games in which Hank Aaron homered in a road game against the Mets, but three of the five losses came in walk-off fashion.


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