ATLANTA — 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, got a standing ovation in the ceremony before the Mets-Braves game. He broke Ruth's record with his homer April 8, 1974, off the Dodgers' Al Downing.
Downing attended the ceremony and threw out the first pitch.
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."
Aaron hit 755 homers, a record later broken by Barry Bonds.
In other Braves news, RH reliever Cory Gearrin confirmed he will have Tommy John surgery after he was injured in spring training.
UMP LOSES SECOND SON: Michael Hirschbeck, 27, son of veteran umpire John Hirschbeck, died of unknown causes. No immediate details were available. In 1993, Hirschbeck's 8-year-old son, John Drew, died of a rare brain disease.
ANGELS: LHP Brian Moran has a torn elbow ligament and will need Tommy John surgery.
DODGERS: C A.J. Ellis had a cleanup procedure on his left knee and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
PHILLIES: LHP Cole Hamels, out with biceps tendinitis, is set to make the first of two scheduled rehab starts Friday for Class A Clearwater in Lakeland.
REDS: RHP Mat Latos was scratched from a rehab start with right elbow irritation.