© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

01/12/10 11:51 AM EST

Aaron offers McGwire his forgiveness

Hall of Famer supports slugger's entry to Cooperstown

Hank Aaron, who held Major League Baseball's career home-run record for 33 years without ever hitting more than 47 homers in any one season, reacted sympathetically to Mark McGwire's public admission of steroid use.

Mark McGwire

Aaron reportedly absolved McGwire, and encouraged others to follow that stance.

"He has my forgiveness," Aaron said of McGwire. "If that's all that stands in the way between him being inducted into Cooperstown, we should all forgive him."

In his third year on the Hall of Fame ballot, McGwire received 23 percent of the votes by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, about the same as in his first two years of eligibility. Election requires 75 percent, and McGwire has 12 years of ballot candidacy remaining.

Aaron's statement appeared in USA Today.

McGwire's confessed use of performance-enhancing drugs may have helped him hit 49-plus homers in five seasons, including the 70 in 1998 that surpassed Roger Maris' 61 in 1961 and briefly stood as the single-season record, until Barry Bonds smacked 73 in 2001.

McGwire hit 583 home runs during his career, currently eighth on the all-time list. Aaron's 755 career homers are now second to Bonds' 762.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Change for a Nickel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.