Aaron 'better all-around player' than Bonds, ex-manager Craig says

Updated: July 29, 2007, 1:20 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Count Roger Craig and Al Rosen among the baseball old-timers who don't believe Barry Bonds will eclipse Hank Aaron, no matter how many more home runs he hits.

"I think Hank Aaron was the better all-around player,'' Craig, a former Giants manager, said Saturday during a reunion of his 1987 NL West championship team. "He was right up there with Willie Mays.''

Rosen, general manager of the 1987 team, said Mays was the only player he saw who was better than Aaron.

"What people don't realize is [Aaron] was also a great baserunner, a terrific outfielder and had a cannon for an arm,'' Rosen said. "He could do it all.''

Craig, who surrendered at least eight homers to Aaron during his 12 years as a pitcher, said Bonds deserved to be considered among the sport's greatest hitter even if his performance was aided by steroids, as some have alleged.

"This guy has some skills and athletic ability you only see once in a lifetime,'' Craig said. "You are watching some things you may never see again.''

Rosen, who hit 192 homers during a 10-year career, said Bonds' ability to focus on hitting despite the steroids controversy "gives credence to this strength.''

Will Clark, the sweet-swinging first baseman on the Giants' 1987 team, played with Bonds in 1993 -- a season that culminated in the third of Bonds' seven NL MVP awards. Although the two had a frosty relationship, Clark called Bonds "the best player I ever played with, hands down.''

Clark said he was rooting for Bonds to break Aaron's record Saturday or Sunday before his adoring fans in San Francisco before the Giants left town for a trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.

"It would be a little awkward if he did it in Los Angeles, to set the home run record and get booed the whole time,'' Clark said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press