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On The Record

With Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron on the home run list, possibly the most famous mark in sports has become easily the most controversial. Here are some reactions from those around the game.He should have stopped at 754

August 08, 2007|KEN BURNS

Barry Bonds could have helped baseball, he could have helped Henry Aaron and, most of all, could have helped himself by hanging it up after hitting home run No. 754. He would have transformed the game of baseball, removed the asterisk, Henry Aaron's pure record would have remained intact and Barry Bonds, for the first time in his life, would have done something for someone other than Barry Bonds.

He would forever be like George Washington, remembered for giving up power rather than holding onto it.

It would have been good for all of us -- the fans, the game of baseball, for Henry Aaron, and, most of all, Barry Bonds, who would have gone down in history as a true, true hero, having realized that he came in with a cloud over his head, enough uncertainty, enough undertone.

Had he stopped at 754, that asterisk would have been off his name, that cloud of disappointment would have been off his name, and he would have been hailed as a great hero, not only in the game of baseball but in the game of life.

I'm sad that he broke it and I think that's what a lot of people feel.

Bonds doesn't help his case because he's not a sympathetic person. And he's not a nice guy. But if you use that litmus test for the Hall of Fame, half of the Hall of Fame would be gone, including Joe DiMaggio.

Then you talk to the players, and they think he's one of the greatest baseball players ever. And you know what? They're right. He is one of the greatest baseball players ever. And there's not a baseball player out there who doesn't think for one second that he should beat the record, that he should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

But the rest of us who enjoy the game just feel that little tinge of sadness.


Ken Burns is a filmmaker who produced the documentaries "The Civil War" and "Baseball," as well as the upcoming World War II series "The War."

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