As Michael Malthouse, the coach of Australian Rules football club Carlton, equals a long held coaching record this weekend, Tony de Bolfo looks at the sporting synergy of numbers.
714. It’s the revered three-digit number in Australian Rules football – that feted number of matches in which James Francis “Jock” McHale coached – a 66-year record all but reined in by Michael Malthouse.
With the focus now firmly on Malthouse’s equalling of McHale’s record this weekend when the Blues take on St Kilda in Wellington, New Zealand, it’s timely to remind ourselves that the number 714 is equally celebrated in another code and another place.
For it was in 1974 in Cincinatti, with his first swing of the season for the Atlanta Braves, that “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron equalled George Herman “Babe” Ruth’s all-time Major League Baseball record of 714 home runs hit – a record that had stood for 39 years since “The Bambino” last wielded the bat.
The American sports fanatic and unabashed Carlton supporter Christopher Lyke recently blogged about the Aaron-Malthouse sporting synergy.
“The one thing about sports is that there are legends made everywhere you look and everywhere you look, there are numbers,” Lyke observed.
“Those legends that etch themselves into the history books to be talked about for generations all have some type of number that is associated with them in one way or another.
“Some numbers are more significant than others. In each and every sport, the numbers always tell the story of what makes legends.”
Hank Aaron overtook Ruth’s record on April 8, 1974. Before his hometown audience of 53,775 at Atlanta’s Turner Field, he clobbered home run number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Dowling.
It’s reasonable to assume a greater turnout at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Mick knocks Jock off on the evening of May 1, 2015, and Carlton and Collingwood meet for the 250th time.
In 1976, Henry Louis Aaron brought down the curtain on his playing career at the Milwaukee Brewers, with a record 755 homers – a tally so impressive it’s been surpassed by only one player, Barry Bonds, who finished his career with 762 (though that record has been tainted amid steroid-use allegations).
But Malthouse’s record will surely endure, for as long as they play Australian Rules.
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