Hollywood loves sports movies. Nothing moves an audience like that slow motion scene where the underdog player or team quiets all the noise in the stadium, then as the music swells they have a triumphant game-winning moment. In recent years, these inspiring films have finally begun telling the stories of history’s greatest Black athletes. Now, one of the most popular and successful baseball players of all time will have his record-breaking moment chronicled on the big screen.
According to Deadline, Hank Aaron’s 1974 campaign to break Babe Ruth’s homerun record will be the subject of the movie 715! Geoffrey Fletcher, who won an Oscar for Precious, is writing the script, which focuses on Aaron as he strives for history amid racist death threats and Calvin Wardlow, the Black detective hired to stay by his side and protect him throughout the season. With the project in the very early development stage, producers are planning to release the film to coincide with the 50th anniversary of “Hammerin’ Hank’s” unforgettable moment.
The Atlanta Braves legend ended his career with 755 home runs, a record broken by Barry Bonds in 2007. Due to the steroids controversy surrounding Bonds and other players of his era, some baseball fans still consider Aaron the home run king. The sport’s followers take its history very seriously, so there’s a lot of gatekeeping about who truly holds certain records and who doesn’t. For die hard baseball aficionados, Babe Ruth was considered an untouchable figure, so for a Black man to be the one to break his record was unimaginable. The fact that Aaron played in Atlanta, made the home run race even more fraught with tension.
Always known as a humble man, the legendary player didn’t want the threats made public, choosing to focus on making history. Obviously the movie will take dramatic license with parts of the story, but it’s vitally important that we never lose sight of the bravery he and other Black athletes of the time had to show on and off the field. And honestly, we’ll probably never really know all the ugliness they lived with, because there are some stories they may never want to tell.
As far as casting is concerned, it’s way too early to get details on who’s in the running to star, but I do have a few ideas. My first thought for Aaron is Brian Tyree Henry or Winston Duke, with John Boyega as Wardlow. As it always does, my mind immediately went to both Jonathan Majors and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, but they can’t be in everything you guys.