By Ronald Blum
NEW YORK - Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will attempt to attend the game 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.
Bonds, who has been dogged for years by suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs, began Tuesday - his 43rd birthday - with 753 homers, two shy of the record.
As recently as last weekend, when he watched Bonds and the Giants play in Milwaukee, Selig said he remained undecided. Selig skipped the Giants' homestand opener on Monday against the Atlanta Braves.
The former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Selig has been friends for many 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.
Selig has not said whether he would participate in any on-field ceremonies.
"I will make an additional statement when the record is tied," he said.