Thirty-six years later Britt Gaston finally got a chance to have a conversation with Hank Aaron.
Gaston, who lives in Mount Pleasant, and high school buddy Cliff Courtenay became a part of baseball history when they ran onto the field at Fulton County Stadium after Aaron smacked his record-setting 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth on April 8, 1974.
The picture of Gaston and Courtenay patting Aaron on the back as he rounded the bases has become iconic.
But besides a couple of brief encounters over the years with the Hall of Fame outfielder, neither Gaston or Courtenay had ever been able to sit down and talk with Aaron.
More than three decades later, the trio were finally reunited at the behest of Aaron last month at Turner Field and were able to talk for about an hour and catch up on old times.
"He's just an unbelievable guy," Gaston said. "He's a true gentleman in every sense of the word and it was great to finally sit down and have a conversation with him. Unfortunately there are not a lot of current players who would have taken the time to do what he did with me and Cliff. The Atlanta Braves and Hank were just fantastic."
The three men discussed how much their lives have changed since that night.
"(Aaron) wanted to know what Cliff and I had been up to the last 35 years," Gaston said. "He was genuinely interested in what we had been doing with our lives and then he told us about all the things he'd been doing since he'd gotten out of baseball. We talked some about minor league baseball stuff, too. It was really interesting."
Gaston had met Aaron on two other occasions. Once in 1984 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Aaron's home run and then again in 1994 during the filming of "Chasing the Dream," a Turner Broadcasting program about the slugger's career.
"Both times it was little more than a handshake," Gaston said. "We never really got a chance to talk with him. This was really the first time we'd been able to sit down and talk with him for any length of time. That's what made it so special."
Gaston said Aaron was surprised to learn that he and Courtenay had spent most of the night in jail after running onto the field.
"We were in a holding cell at the stadium for about 30 minutes, then they took us to the Decatur Street jail," Gaston said. "It was a pretty rugged place."
Gaston's father, who was also at the game that night, bailed his son and Courtenay out of jail for $100 each.
"We were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing under Section Q: interfering with the lawful occupation of another," Gaston said. "I'll never forget that."
The charges were eventually dropped.
"Anytime anyone asks, I'll tell them it was Cliff's idea and he'll tell them it was my idea to run on the field," Gaston said. "Honestly, we both came up with it. We talked about what we were going to do in the parking lot."