MLB to formally celebrate if Bonds passes Aaron

Updated: March 28, 2006, 5:04 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball will in some way formally celebrate Barry Bonds as the home run king should the San Francisco Giants slugger break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

"There will likely be ads, either national or local, and that will be determined in the days coming up," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president of business for the league. "We are basically going to be consistent with the policy we've been following for the last 10 years against many of the milestones that have been achieved in baseball."

Brosnan made his comments on a panel at the Street & Smith's World Congress of Sports in New York City.

Bonds is only seven home runs away from moving into second place on the home run list. He currently stands at 708 home runs compared to Babe Ruth's 714.

Brosnan hinted that baseball likely would do little to commemorate Bonds' passing of Ruth.

"The big record is 755," Brosnan said. "That's where we bring in partners and create national marketing campaigns and celebrations."

A poll of 155 sports business executives at the conference revealed that 45 percent would have a "very muted congratulations of Bonds." Twenty nine percent would not have any celebration, while 26 percent said it would be appropriate to have a full celebration.

But how many companies would join in celebrating Bonds, who is the subject of a new book that alleges Bonds has used performance-enhancing drugs for years?

Pepsi, which is a league sponsor, plans on celebrating the achievement in a more muted way, according to Dawn Hudson, president and chief executive of Pepsi-Cola North America.

"As brand stewards we are going to be careful that what we are doing is right by youth and having the right symbols of what achievement is in this country," Hudson told the conference audience.

The Giants are expected to celebrate the 715th home run, and Bonds' marketing agent Jeff Bernstein told ESPN.com that there will be plenty of merchandise surrounding the moment.

Bernstein said plans are well under way for commemorative T-shirts, hats, coins and lapel pins. He also said that McFarlane Toys will be making a special boxed set featuring figurines of both Bonds and Ruth.

Topps, which is the only card company that has the rights to use Bonds, will make a card set featuring Bonds homeruns from Nos. 700 to 715.

Bernstein said Bonds will also sell limited edition commemorative items on his Web site.

Brosnan said that he believes that Major League Baseball will take some action into looking into Bonds' past, as has been rumored.

"Perhaps not along the lines of an investigation because law enforcement was, and still is, involved," Brosnan said. "Like everyone else, we have to be careful when that happens."

Brosnan did say that he believes that a fact-finding mission will make it easier for potential sponsors to join in a celebration should Bonds hit more than 47 home runs and break the long ball record.

Said Brosnan: "When we would have our discussions with our partners, we would present them with the facts when we ask them to consider the kind of commitment we are asking them to make."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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