SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - For one spectacular moment, Barry Bonds and everybody cheering him could forget about the controversy surrounding his chase and appreciate the phenomenal feat: 756.
Nobody in the majors — not Hank Aaron, not Babe Ruth — has ever hit more home runs than the San Francisco star.
On Tuesday night, in his home ballpark, it didn't matter how many of them might have been fueled by steroids or performance-enhancers. Bonds has the title of home run king all to himself, ending Aaron's 33-year reign.
"This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period," Bonds said.
And more than 43,000 adoring Giants fans, including his godfather, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, surely agreed.
Bonds raised both arms over his head like a prize fighter in victory, fists clenched. It was over at long last.
Bonds did it with a shot to the deepest part of the ballpark with one out in the fifth inning against Washington's Mike Bacsik.
Bonds sent the 84-mph fastball arcing high into the night, 435 feet into the right-center field seats. And then, the celebration began in force.
Conspicuous by their absence were the commissioner and Hammerin' Hank himself.
Though he was on hand for the tying homer three days ago, deciding to put baseball history ahead of the suspicions plaguing the Giants slugger, Bud Selig wasn't there for the record-breaker.
Instead, he sent two emissaries, Major League Baseball executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Selig also issued a statement.
"While the issues which have swirled around this record will continue to work themselves toward resolution, today is a day for congratulations on a truly remarkable achievement," Selig said.
Bonds also heard personally from the commissioner with congratulations.
"I was very happy about that," Bonds said.
As for Aaron, he said all along he had no interest in being there whenever and wherever his record was broken. He was true to his word, but he did offer a taped message of congratulations that played on the stadium's video board during a 10-minute, in-game tribute.
"It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination," he said.
"Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.
"My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."
A woman who answered the phone at Aaron's home in Georgia shortly after Bonds' homer said that Aaron was asleep.
"When I saw Hank Aaron that made everything," Bonds said. "We've always loved him. He's always the home run king."
With a long, satisfied stare, Bonds watched as the ball sailed over the fence and disappeared into the scrum in the first few rows.
"I knew I hit it," Bonds said. "I knew I got it. I was like, phew, finally."
His 17-year-old batboy son, Nikolai, was already bouncing on home plate as Dad rounded third and ran the final 90 feet to make it official. After a long embrace, the rest of the family joined in. And then there was Mays, who removed his cap and congratulated his godson.
Bonds saved his most poignant words for last, addressing his late father, Bobby.
"My dad," he said. "Thank you."
Bonds had wanted to break the record at home, where he would be assured of a friendly crowd. Bonds has always denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
After doubling and singling his first two times up, Bonds hit a solo home run. Bacsik put his left hand to the back of his head as soon as Bonds connected.
"I dreamed about it as a kid, but when I dreamed about it, I was the one hitting the home run and not giving it up," Bacsik said.
"I didn't really want to be part of history as a bad part, but I am," he said. "I'm OK with it."
Bacsik later spoke with Bonds and got an autographed a bat from the Giants star.