History

Bee History: Bonds wearing tarnished HR crown?

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds watches home run number 756 leave AT&T Park to break Hank Aaron’s record of 755. Bonds hit a fifth inning fastball pitched by Mike Bacisk of the Washington Nationals on August 7, 2007.
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds watches home run number 756 leave AT&T Park to break Hank Aaron’s record of 755. Bonds hit a fifth inning fastball pitched by Mike Bacisk of the Washington Nationals on August 7, 2007. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

The Sacramento Bee is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year. This story is part of our ongoing coverage.

Aug. 8, 2007: Barry Lamar Bonds became the new home run king Tuesday at AT&T Park, adding to a lifetime of highlights he has provided Giants fans since coming to San Francisco following the 1992 season.

The 43-year-old slugger soaked in the cheers at the waterfront stadium after the milestone homer and seemed genuinely moved by the 10-minute celebration that followed his 756th career home run, which surpassed Hank Aaron’s total.

On the field after the historic home run, he received a surprising congratulatory message on the centerfield video scoreboard from Aaron, “offering my best wishes to Barry and his family for this historic achievement.”

After the tribute, Bonds said, “I’ve got to thank all of you, the fans of San Francisco, and my teammates.”

Bonds then thanked his family, including a finger pointed skyward when he thanked his late father, former major-leaguer Bobby Bonds.

For the record, he took Mike Bacsik deep in the fifth inning. It was 8:51 p.m. and the ball traveled an estimated 435 feet, landing in the centerfield bleachers.

The cheers continued well after Bonds crossed home, continuing as he took his spot in left field after the inning ended.

But as revered as Bonds is in the Bay Area, he is just as reviled everywhere else. The shadow of suspicion that Bonds filled his body with performance-enhancing drugs to help his quest for the all-time home run record has not only tainted the hallowed mark in the minds of many baseball fans, it also threatens his very legacy.

Because while Bonds was considered a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly began using steroids and the like, reportedly out of jealousy following the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Bonds’ statistics become other-worldly at a point in a player’s career when they typically start to slow down.

“He was a good home run hitter,” one-time Giants teammate Will Clark recently said with a grin. “But he picked up the pace a little, didn’t he?”

Paul Gutierrez

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