Hank Aaron

Bud Selig: Barry Bonds not all-time home run king, Hank Aaron is

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Bud Selig: Barry Bonds not all-time home run king, Hank Aaron is

Is Barry Bonds deserving of a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

It’s a question more difficult to answer now that the steroid wall at the helm of the Baseball Writers Association of America is slowly beginning to crumble. But it remains one of the biggest debates across baseball.

But how does Bud Selig feel about it? Not necessarily as a big-league executive, but as a fan. 

The ninth Commissioner of Major League Baseball was a recent guest on The Dan Patrick Show and was asked his thoughts on the controversial subject. He has some biased as he’s close friends with Hank Aaron, and even said in his book that having to name Bonds as the all-time home run king “didn’t feel good at all.”

Bonds currently holds the all-time record with 762 career homers. Asterisk or not, they stand by his name.

Aaron hit 755 across 23 seasons.

As a fan …

“Well, I’ve never really answered that,” Selig told Patrick. “But I will say this to you, in my mind, even though Bonds holds the record, and I’ve said ‘records are records,’ I think you know how I feel about Henry Aaron.”

The former Milwaukee Brewers' team president and owner said he and Aaron had just spoken recently about this like they sometimes do. 

Patrick wanted to confirm Selig’s beliefs that Aaron should have the title of home run king. Selig confirmed.

And would Selig vote Bonds into Cooperstown?

“That’s one I will not answer because what I’ve said is I did everything I could do,” he explained. “Remember this, Dan, and I don’t have to tell you this, baseball not only didn’t have a drug-testing program -- we went through the cocaine era -- a serious problem in the ‘80s. Twenty-nine guys get convicted, four go to jail, and they couldn’t get a drug program.”

The Hall of Famer himself is glad those responsibilities are on others. 

“So, I’m proud of where we are," Selig said. "But I’m going to let the writers decide that -- they can decide that.”

[RELATED: Selig reflects on 'misery' of Bonds' home run chase]

Patrick wanted to know if Selig’s thoughts on Rogers Clemens mirrored that of Bonds -- once again, as a fan. 

“No, I don’t want to answer.”

Bud Selig reflects on 'misery' of Barry Bonds' home run record chase

Bud Selig reflects on 'misery' of Barry Bonds' home run record chase

We always knew the relationship between former Giants legend Barry Bonds and Major League Baseball was far from amicable, but former MLB commissioner Bud Selig has more than doubled down on those feelings in his upcoming book, "For The Good of the Game."

In an excerpt from his book published by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, Selig was not shy about his displeasure for Bonds and the time frame between July 27, 2007, when Bonds connected on career home run No. 754, to August 7, when he hammered his 22nd home run of the season and the 756th of his career. 

"Bonds was on the verge of breaking Henry Aaron’s record for career home runs, and I was doing what a commissioner of a sports league is supposed to do," Selig wrote. "I was hopscotching around the country to be in attendance when the self-absorbed slugger hit the record homer."

Selig presided over baseball as its embattled commissioner from 1992 until he retired in 2015, a period that saw rampant steroid use across baseball -- especially from many of its star players.

While Selig does take responsibility for not doing more to stand in the way of performance-enhancing drug use, he pulled zero punches when describing his emotions during the two-week period where Bonds and his chase for the record was the epicenter of the sports world. 

In addition to lamenting Bonds' arrogance, Selig also noted the contrast between Bonds and Aaron, who Barry was chasing for the all-time home run record. 

"Along the way, I had a lot of time to think about the differences between Barry Bonds, who simply wasn’t likable, and Henry Aaron, who had been such a giant on the field and now was the same way off the field, carrying himself with as much poise as humility," Selig opined. "I have called myself a friend of Henry’s since 1958 and burst with pride every time I speak about him."

Selig went on to discuss the scene in San Diego after Bonds went to the opposite field at Petco Park to get home run No. 755 to tie the MLB record:

I trudged up to a box high atop the stadium the next night. I didn’t mind being by myself. I thought I’d experienced every emotion possible at a ballpark. I’d been nervous a lot and angry more often than I’d like to admit. I’d chain-smoked and I’d felt the level of peacefulness that my friends talk about after long hikes at a national park. I’d been exhilarated and had moments of pure joy. But this took me to a place I’d never been before, and I’ll admit it.

I was thinking about that and a million other things as I watched Bonds drive a pitch from the Padres’ Clay Hensley into the seats in left field in San Diego, setting off a celebration as he tied Henry’s record.

I didn’t go to the clubhouse to congratulate him afterward. I just couldn’t bring myself to look him in the eyes and act happy about what he’d done. I don’t exactly have a poker face.

[RELATED: New Giants draftee Hunter Bishop has similar background to Bonds]

Selig also noted that while Aaron had been hesitant about doing a video tribute for Bonds when he set the record, Selig was the one who convinced him to do it "regardless of the circumstance."

Bonds, due to his alleged steroid use, still is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Giants did retire his No. 25 jersey during the 2018 season though, and Bonds was met with adoring cheers from the San Francisco crowd.

But while Bonds is not in the Hall, Selig was elected in 2017. Selig reflected on the entirety of his career and the steroid era as well in the last paragraph of the available excerpt.

"Steroids became a bigger issue than any of us imagined when we were watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the summer of 1998," the former commissioner wrote. "But through my work with owners—eventually with cooperation from the players union, which was kicking and screaming all the way—we ended up with baseball having the toughest steroid policy in sports. I couldn’t be prouder as I look back. The same is true for the economic overhaul of the sport during my tenure."