SAN FRANCISCO - Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will try to be there when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's career home run record, saying the San Francisco Giants star was "innocent until proven guilty."
"Throughout this season, I have watched Barry Bonds' pursuit of the home run record. Now that he is on the verge of tying the record, the time has come to announce that I will make every attempt to attend the record-setting moment," Selig said in a statement Tuesday.
"Out of respect for the tradition of this game, the magnitude of the record, and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, I will attend Barry Bonds' next games to observe his potential tying and breaking of the home run record, subject to my commitments to the Hall of Fame this weekend."
Selig will be in Cooperstown, N.Y., for Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.
The Giants were happy to hear of the commissioner's plans.
"He should be here," Ray Durham said. "Hopefully Barry can put on a show for him."
Bonds, who has been dogged for years by suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs, began Tuesday with 753 homers, two shy of the record. His single in the eighth inning Monday night broke an 0-for-8 streak since he went deep twice last Thursday in Chicago.
"It's a prestigious record, it's hard not to be there," Steve Kline said. "It would contradict his words on someone being innocent until proven guilty. They've been after him for awhile. If he's found guilty, they can do something different then. Right now, he's about to be the new home run king."
As recently as last weekend, when Selig watched Bonds and the Giants play in Milwaukee, the commissioner said he remained undecided on whether to be in attendance when the record falls. Selig skipped the Giants' homestand opener on Monday against the Atlanta Braves.
The former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Selig has been friends for years with Aaron, who began his career in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves and ended it in 1976 with the Brewers.
In 1974, commissioner Bowie Kuhn was criticized when he was not at the ballpark in Atlanta when Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth. Kuhn was at the game in Cincinnati when Aaron tied Ruth..
"Bottom line, Barry's good for the game," Barry Zito said. "People on the upper levels might not want to embrace that. But the way he draws people to the game is second to none."