For more than 30 years, the Braves’ #44 held the record for most career home runs. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hit a total of 755 homers throughout his time playing baseball, greatly raising the standards of the game. John Lowenberg ‘64 procured this autographed Louisville Slugger and ball for Denison, adding them to the signed portrait of Aaron that he had previously donated in 1974. Painted by well-known sports artist Wayland Moore, the mural shows Aaron hitting what is most likely another home run, the paint blurred with the speed and force of his swing.
While the Giants’ Barry Bonds was steadily inching closer to breaking Aaron’s record four years ago, Lowenberg, now a Denison trustee, saw an opportunity to create exposure for the college. He purchased the autographed bat and ball to make a trio of Aaron memorabilia, hoping that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum would be interested in borrowing the mural to hang in their Hank Aaron room or to send around the country, displaying it in whichever ballpark Bonds was playing in at the time.
The Hall of Fame seemed interested in Lowenberg’s proposals, but no action was ever taken. Bonds surpassed the record in 2007 in the midst of a scandal involving steroid use, but Aaron nevertheless moved down to second on the all-time home-run list. Today the ball and bat live in the archives wrapped in tissue paper for preservation and the painting resides in the Denison Museum.