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Six degrees of Hank Aaron

July 20, 2007

Hank Aaron and Albuquerque. Hmm. Hard to draw a connection, no?

Well, apparently not.

Aaron’s record breaking home run ball sat in an Albuquerque safe deposit box for 23 years! How the ball came to rest in Albuquerque, while not The Odyssey, is still quite the story. Green Bay Press-Gazette:

It’s July 20, 1976, and 29-year-old Richard Arndt, a baseball fanatic and part-time member of the Brewers grounds crew, is hanging out with two of his co-workers behind the left field fence at County Stadium.

. . . .

Right-hander Dick Drago tries to slip a fastball past Aaron. The ball is tagged and sent 363 feet to the left field seats, soaring just past the foul pole before finally resting near a concrete walkway.

Arndt races towards the ball, beating barely beating out a group of fans. He grabs it.

Richard Arnet, you see, is resident of Albuquerque.

The ball may never have found its way to Albuquerque, if it weren’t for the Brewers’ attempt to muscle Arnet. All Arnet wanted was to meet Aaron and have the slugger sign the ball. No dice. In fact, the Brewers fired Arnet after he refuse to exchange the ball for an autographed bat. The ball stayed with Arnet and accompanied the NMSU employee on his move to New Mexico. Arnet finally sold the ball in 1999 for $650,000. Not a bad payout on a holdout spanning 23 years. Well done, sir.

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