Sports Desk: A look back at Hank Aaron’s ties to Albuquerque

Local Sports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hall of Fame slugger and baseball icon, Hank Aaron passed away at the age of 86 on Friday. Aaron is famously known for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record and then holding the title of “Home Run King” for 33 years after finishing his career with 755 career home runs.

Aaron does have a few ties to Albuquerque. In 1975 while playing with the Brewers, Aaron played in an exhibition game at the Albuquerque Sports Stadium. Aaron will also be forever connected with former Duke’s groundskeeper, Richard Arndt, as Arndt ended up with Hank Aaron’s 755th home run ball, back in 1976.

Arndt got the ball while employed for the Milwaukee Brewers. He did not give the ball back to Aaron and after getting fired from the Brewers organization, he placed the ball in a safety deposit box in Albuquerque. It remained in Albuquerque for 22 years, but he ended up selling the ball for $650,000 in 1999.

Now to boxing. Albuquerque’s own WBO Junior Featherweight Champion, Angelo Leo made weight on Friday. Leo is now one day out of his first title defense where he will take on Stephen Fulton. Both fighters come in undefeated to this main event bout, and Leo is currently the underdog. Even though the odds are against him Leo is determined to keep his title and feels that Fulton has more on his plate in this situation.

“You know, being the underdog just gives you more motivation, more fuel to the flame really. I love being the underdog because there is no pressure on me, all the pressure is on him, and I am the world champion. so, hey there is more power to me,” said Angelo Leo.

Leo vs Fulton will be the main event of Saturday nights Showtime Boxing Card and it will start at 7 p.m.

Now to basketball. The Lobo men are finally in the Mountain West Win Column after beating San Jose State 67-51. UNM now holds a record of 5-8 overall and 1-8 in conference play. UNM prides itself on playing good defense and getting rebounds, but improved offensive performance also helped them finish this game out.

“I really feel that right now that going back and looking at the film we are going to feel even better about our offense. We missed a lot of bunnies still, didn’t get to the free-throw line quite as much as I would like, and had some really good looks that just didn’t go down. Again the quality of shot is what we talk about offensively and it’s not always going to go in,” said UNM Head Basketball Coach Paul Weir.

Two-point guards are also adding some fire to this offense. Weir really liked the performances he got out of Saquan Singleton and Isaiah Marin, who finished with a combined 8:2 assist to turnover ratio. “I thought our point guards managed a terrific game for a full 40 to kind of get that kind of assist to turnover ratio is great. I am picking these two guys and going with it for a bit and hopefully, they will continue to manage good offensive basketball games and we will find a way to kind of get some better timing, and get some more repetitions with some physicality and finish more around the rim,” said Weir.

UNM will play San Jose State again on Saturday at 12 p.m., that game will be shown on the Mountain West Network. Lobo men’s basketball also made the announcement on Friday, that their games, which are listed as home match-ups, with San Diego State on February 3 and February 5 will be played in Lubbock, Texas.

Now to the gridiron. New Mexico State football was in full practice on Friday night, ahead of their 3-game spring season. The Aggies were one of three FBS teams that didn’t play in the fall, so they will now play Tarleton State, New Mexico Highlands, and Dixie State in a shortened spring season.

NMSU is set to kick things off by hosting Tarleton State on February 20, but under the current COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico, that is not possible. “We don’t really know when and if games will be allowed to take place in the state. So, it behooves us to make plans outside the state and we have talked to, I guess semi-officially, a couple of locations in the state of Texas to potentially have those football games. Also, those games could turn into road games,” said NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia.

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