Aaron meets with on-field fans from No. 715

Aaron meets with on-field fans from No. 715

ATLANTA -- Two teenagers chasing Hank Aaron around the bases on his 715th home run are as much a part of that record-setting game in 1974 as Al Downing of the Dodgers delivering the pitch and Tom House of the Braves catching the historic ball behind the fence in left-center field.

"That picture follows me around wherever I go," Aaron said. "I can't get away from it."

More than 36 years after the memorable event, Aaron got together with his once-youthful admirers at Turner Field on Friday. Cliff Courtenay and Britt Gaston left with several items autographed by Aaron. The pair reciprocated by giving the Hall of Famer an autographed ball with their signatures.

Courtenay and Gaston are now 54, with their hair respectively gray and white. Aaron is now 76.

"Time really flies," Aaron said.

Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's career record of 714 homers brought more than a few ugly threats. But the Braves legend said that he wasn't worried when he was suddenly joined by two young strangers as he touched second base and headed for third on April 8, 1974.

"I've always said it was just a couple of kids having fun," Aaron said.

Relieved that he had passed Ruth, Aaron had tuned out everything around him.

"I'd hit the homer. It was all over," Aaron said. "I didn't think anything. I was excited about it being over and glad that it was over. All I wanted to do was make sure I touched all the bases."

As high school seniors in Waycross, Ga., Courtenay and Gaston had come to the home opener at Fulton County Stadium with two friends, hoping to see Aaron break the record. When they jumped over the railing near the Braves' dugout, they quickly became part of the drama.

"It was thinking with a 17-year-old's brain," Courtenay said.

The teenagers' plan was to escape into the crowd after congratulating Aaron, but they were apprehended and arrested when they reached third base. After spending time in jail, the duo was bailed out by Gaston's father and the charges were later dismissed.

"It was a long, quiet ride home," Courtenay said.

Courtenay is now an optometrist in Valdosta, Ga. Gaston is a businessman who lives in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Their youthful adventure seems out of character.

With increased security, Courtenay and Gaston were asked what they thought would happen if they had tried the stunt now.

"We probably wouldn't have gotten all the way to second base," Gaston said.

Courtenay and Gaston met Aaron briefly in 1994 during the filming of the 20th-anniversary documentary "Chasing the Dream." This time, they got to spend more time together.

"It was good to talk with them," Aaron said. "What they did back then was just in fun. They didn't mean any harm."

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.