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s0012 BC-BBN-Aaronat75 2ndLd-Writethru 02-06 0928

Aaron celebrates 75th birthday

ATLANTA — Hank Aaron was peppered with hate mail as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s home run record.

On his 75th birthday, "Hammerin’ Hank" felt nothing but love.

From former President Bill Clinton to baseball commissioner Bug Selig, the famous came together Thursday night to celebrate a landmark birthday for the man who hit 755 homers during his Hall of Fame career.

In an interesting twist, Aaron was honored by some 700 people at a downtown Atlanta hotel on the same day Barry Bonds was in a San Francisco courtroom, pleading not guilty to perjury charges stemming from testimony that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs as he was chasing Aaron’s record.

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"This means an awful lot to me," Aaron said after posing for pictures with some of his birthday guests. "It means you tried to carry yourself in such a way that people have respect for you. That’s the most important thing. I don’t try to do anything special. I just try to share whatever I’ve been able to accomplish with other people."

If Aaron could change one thing about the sport he played so well, what would it be? His reply came quickly: a salary cap.

"I would try to put a cap on things," he said. "Really, that’s the thing that I see will probably do baseball in if we don’t have some kind of money cap."

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