Asked again Monday for his reaction to Aaron's stated intention to be on a golf course if and when Bonds breaks the all-time home run record, the Giants' 42-year-old slugger said he wouldn't be goaded into saying anything negative about the man who hit 755 home runs over 23 seasons.
"I have the utmost respect for Hank Aaron," Bonds said. "Hank Aaron was a great ballplayer. He's the home run king. To me it's just a tragedy the way the press is doing it. It's sad. I have nothing but love for Hank Aaron, period. He's one of my mentors as well as Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and all the other black athletes before my time, and he will always be regardless of what you guys write in the paper."
Aaron is said to be uncomfortable with acknowledging Bonds because of the Giants slugger's attachment to the steroid era. But if Bonds is privately miffed at Aaron's cold shoulder, he isn't letting it show.
"Hank is one of the forefronts of history, just like Babe Ruth is one of the forefronts of history, and we respect that and we all admire them and we all loved them for what they accomplished and giving us goals to shoot after," Bonds said. "We respect them all, and I'm not going to allow the press or anybody to say anything different out of my mouth.
"The day I ever talk to Hank Aaron face to face and
Bonds entered Monday with 737 home runs, 19 away from passing Aaron. He was amused to learn that fans at Dodger Stadium chanted "Barry Sucks" when Aaron threw out the first pitch Sunday night.
Randy Winn, Ray Durham, Dave Roberts and first base coach Willie Upshaw joined Bonds in wearing No. 42 in honor of Sunday's 60th anniversary of Robinson's breaking baseball's color barrier. The Giants' scheduled doubleheader in Pittsburgh was rained out. ... Major League Baseball expects to announce a makeup date for the Giants' two rainouts at Pittsburgh by the end of the week, senior vice president Katy Feeney said. Feeney eliminated one contingency, saying it was too early to consider making up any games in San Francisco when the Pirates visit Aug. 10-12. The most likely scenario is a doubleheader Aug. 13 at PNC Park. ... Mark Sweeney collected his 140th pinch hit, moving him past Dave Hansen into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list. He is just 10 away from climbing into a second-place tie with Manny Mota.
-- Andrew Baggarly, MediaNews staff