Babe Ruth was the Sultan of Swat. Henry Aaron was Hammerin' Hank.
Barry Bonds always seemed too complicated, too standoffish for a nickname. Instead, he shares a title: home run king.
Through a tempest of emotion and suspicion, Bonds took a seat next to Aaron, matching the all-time home run record after hitting his 755th in the second inning Saturday night at Petco Park.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my life," Bonds said after the Giants lost 3-2 in 12 innings. "It's Hank Aaron. I can't explain the feeling of it. It's just ... Hank Aaron."
Bonds equaled Aaron's record in front of cheers, flashbulbs, an undercurrent of boos and commissioner Bud Selig, who joylessly kept his hands at his sides.
"Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Baseball's home run record," Selig said in a prepared statement. "No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable."
Selig, who refused an invitation by ESPN to join the broadcast after Bonds' homer, said he or a representative of his office would continue to attend the next few games.
Bonds, 43, hit his tying home run against a pitcher, San Diego's Clay Hensley, who was suspended for steroid use in 2005.
He hit it while his personal trainer, Greg Anderson, sits in a prison cell for refusing to testify to a federal grand jury investigating whether Bonds committed perjury in his sworn statements to BALCO prosecutors 3-1/2 years ago.
Four hours before the game, Bonds took 111 swings in an empty ballpark, one of the game's greatest hitters working to find his famously short, quick stroke.
On his 112th, he found it.
Hensley threw a 2-and-1 fastball up and away that tailed onto Bonds' maple bat. Instead of pulling it with an anxious swing, Bonds went with the pitch and powered it an estimated 382 feet.
"I was thinking about how I finally did something mechanically right," said Bonds, asked his thoughts as he rounded the bases. "I don't think the pitch was even a strike. I finally got to a hitting position I've been getting to my entire career.
"I didn't even have any idea where that ball went. I knew I hit it hard. I was just relieved."
A day later, Bonds was out of the lineup, enjoying the moment and declining to make any predictions about when he'll break the record.
"There's no pressure on me to do this right away. If I keep my mechanics right, you guys won't be around long," Bonds said. "I'd love to do a lot of things, but a lot of good fortunes have to come with that, too. I'm going to do my best."
He'll get his first chance at 756 tonight, in the opener of a four-game series with the Nationals. Bonds said he had heard of Washington's starter for the first game, rookie left-hander John Lannan, but that's about it.
He didn't plan on doing much studying, either.
"I don't like to remember too much of anything," Bonds said. "I like the challenge in front of me."
A TAINTED MARK?
Brian Johnson said it's "hard to dispute" former teammate Barry Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.
On ESPN's Outside the Lines, Johnson recounted what he told the staff of steroids investigator George Mitchell. Johnson, a catcher with Bonds' Giants in 1997 and 1998, also was asked about Bonds.
"You can make a fair argument that he may have been cheating," he said. "Based on what has been documented, it's hard to dispute that argument."
BONDS CHASES 756
Homers to date: 755
Sunday: Did not play
Tonight: vs. Nationals, 10:15, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scheduled starter: LHP John Lannan
Career vs. Lannan: First meeting