ATLANTA (AP) — Hank Aaron is still the home run king to many. Even baseball commissioner Bud Selig has a difficult time seeing it any other way.
Aaron was honored before the Braves game against the New York Mets on Tuesday night with a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of his 715th home run, the one that pushed him past Babe Ruth and gave him the major league record.
Aaron finished with 755 home runs, but was eventually passed on the career list by Barry Bonds, whose career was tarnished by steroids allegations. Bonds has 762 homers, but many baseball fans don't accept that number and stand by Aaron as the true record-holder.
Speaking with reporters after the ceremony, Selig was asked about Aaron being called the true home run king.
"I'm always in a sensitive spot there, but I've said that myself and I'll just leave it at that," Selig said.
During the ceremony Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said Aaron "set the home-run record the old-fashioned way" and added "You will always be the home run king of all time."
Retired Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren earned a big ovation when he said Aaron is "still recognized as baseball's true home run king."
Aaron, 80, was given a standing ovation in the ceremony before the game. Aaron broke Ruth's record with his homer on April 8, 1974, off the Dodgers' Al Downing.
Downing attended the ceremony and threw out the first pitch. Some of Aaron's 1974 teammates returned, including Dusty Baker, who was on-deck when the record-breaking homer was hit, Ralph Garr, Phil Niekro, Ron Reed, Marty Perez and Tom House, who caught the homer in the bullpen.
Aaron thanked fans "for all your kindness all these many years." Aaron, recovering from recent hip-replacement surgery, used a walker.