DENVER — Hank Aaron is happy he stayed away from Barry Bonds’ home run chase. Speaking before Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night, the former home run king said he avoided ballparks last summer because he didn’t want to deal with daily questions about Bonds. “I was chasing the record, it was all about a man of color,” Aaron said. “Now when Barry was chasing the record, it was all about steroids and I really didn’t want to be involved in that. I didn’t think I needed to.” Aaron used crutches to get around Coors Field, saying he had an operation two weeks ago to repair damaged cartilage in his right leg. Bonds hit his 756th homer on Aug. 7, breaking the mark Aaron established during a 23-season career that ended in 1976. The 43-year-old Bonds finished the season with 762 homers and hopes to play again next season. Aaron topped Babe Ruth’s record of 714 in 1974. The 73-year-old was asked how he felt now about Bonds’ topping him. “I’m sure Barry thinks that it’s wonderful. It didn’t bother me because I stayed out of the limelight,” Aaron said. “I just refused to get involved in it.
It wasn’t because I had any animosity toward Barry breaking the record. I said all along, I’ll say it again, records are made to be broken and that’s it. Somebody can come along and perhaps break that record.” Aaron, who works for the Atlanta Braves, said he made a more productive use of his time: spending it with his grandchildren. Even with all the suspicions that home run totals were boosted by steroids in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Aaron said home runs had not been devalued in his mind. “Home runs will always have a special place in baseball’s heart. When someone hit a home run, it’s just something that is magic about it,” he said. Aaron also pointed out that unlike some sluggers, he never struck out 100 times in a season. “I refused to do that. To me that was the most embarrassing thing in baseball,” he said. “I see a lot of players today take very lightly that they strike out and they go back and they don’t try to figure out what the game is all about.” Aaron came to the World Series to present the Hank Aaron awards for offensive achievement, which went to the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Prince Fielder. He also announced a collaboration between the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to distribute 44 grants per year — matching Aaron’s uniform number. The money will provide children with financial support and mentoring.