ATLANTA – Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called Hank Aaron “ideally suited to become Babe Ruth’s heir” on Tuesday night as he participated in the Braves’ celebration of the 40th anniversary of Aaron’s record-breaking 715th homer.
Aaron, 80, was given a standing ovation in the ceremony before the Mets-Braves 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, 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.
“The game of baseball was a way that I relaxed myself each year that I went on the field for 23 years,” Aaron said. “I gave baseball everything that I had, everything, every ounce of my ability to play the game I tried to play to make you the fans appreciate me more. Thank you.”