ARLINGTON -- Hank Aaron was unable to attend the annual presentation of the Major League Baseball award that is given in his name each year because of a knee replacement surgery earlier this month.
Commissioner Bud Selig made the solo presentation this time on Monday before Game 5 of the World Series to winners Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, and he said his longtime friend tried as much as possible to downplay the reason for not being in attendance.
"Hank and I have been friends for 54 years now. You know how much this means to him," Selig said. "Unfortunately this year, he's unable to be with us. He had a knee replacement surgery, so he's been in therapy. We've talked a lot. We talked just a little while ago, and he said he was going to call both of these guys. He assured us that his surgery went well and he is recovering comfortably, but he can't travel and is not going to be able to travel for a while."
Selig said that in his conversation with the Hall of Famer before the presentation, Aaron not only told the Commissioner he would be calling the two recipients, but also that he doesn't want to make a fuss over this.
That's Aaron, who was an All-Star in 21 of his 23 Major League seasons. He played in 3,298 games -- his final season was in 1976 -- going out with what then was a record of 755 home runs. His durability and consistency were his trademarks.
"He wanted to point out -- he's very sensitive about this injury, I have to say," Selig said. "He keeps making excuses to me. Why he's making excuses to me, I don't know. But he said it was the first time that he ever missed a game due to injury. He wanted me to say that.
"Over the course of his 23-year career, he was never on the disabled list, which is really remarkable when you think about it."
Kemp said he was amazed by hearing the Commissioner say that.
"That's definitely an accomplishment for any player," Kemp said. "Somebody who taught me the importance of playing every game was Juan Pierre. He was a guy I learned a lot from. He was always one of those guys who wanted to play every game and not sit out. I feel like if I can play every day, something special is going to happen, I'm going to do something special for my team that day to help them win. My being on that field gives my team a chance to win more, so that's what I'm going to do."
Aaron had an official Major League Baseball award named for him in 1999, when MLB honored the 25th anniversary of his breaking Babe Ruth's longstanding record of 714 homers on April 8, 1974.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.