Someone You Should Know: Cliff Courtenay

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

There are many moments in sports history that we all remember. For instance, the U.S. beating Russia in the 1980 Olympics. There's also a handful of moments in baseball that give you chills, no matter how many times you've seen them. And one Valdosta man played a part in one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.

For the past 16 years, Cliff Courtenay has been an optometrist in Valdosta. But what makes this doctor stand out above the others? Why is Cliff more famous than your average eye doctor? It's what he's seen of course.

April 8th, 1974, Hank Aaron hits home run number 715. As he rounds 2nd base, two teenagers run after him. One of them is Courtenay.

"We didn't have any big plans. It was one of those things that kind of fell into place when you're thinking with a 17 year old brain, things happen."

And the plan worked...until Courtenay and Britt Gaston found themselves in jail.

"We jumped and ran and got caught and they put is in the lockup and we've been good boys ever since."

The boys thought they'd pulled off a major coup...but you know what comes next.

"Ironically, my mother and father were mother recognized me."

Many years later, Courtenay would meet Hank Aaron during a photo op....The hammer famous for the long ball, Courtenay infamous for his short run.

"He made a comment that he was glad to see we turned out ok, although I'm not so sure that he was completely convinced of it."

It's been 34 years since that day in Atlanta....Courtenay is now married and runs a successful business in South Georgia....but no matter how many surgeries he performs or how many lights that shine...none will be brighter than the night that Cliff Courtenay became a footnote in baseball history.

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