Henry Aaron's ordeal ended at 9:07 p.m. Monday.
It ended in a carnival atmosphere that would have been more congenial to the man he surpassed as baseball's alltime home-run champion. But it ended. And for that, as Aaron advised the 53,775 Atlanta fans who came to enshrine him in the game's pantheon, "Thank God."
Aaron's 715th home run came in the fourth inning of the Braves' home opener with Los Angeles, off the Dodgers' Al Downing, a lefthander who had insisted doggedly before the game that for him this night, would be "no different from any other." He was wrong, for now he joins a company of victims that includes Tom Zachary (Babe Ruth's 60th home run in 1927), Tracy Stallard (Roger Maris' 61st in 1961), and Guy Bush (Ruth's 714th in 1935). They are destined to ride in tandem through history with their assailants.