San Francisco Giants

Barry Bonds will return to AT&T Park, where career ended quietly

Giants fans look forward to Barry Bonds return to AT&T Park

Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds returns to AT&T Park Friday night as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins. Giants fans talked about the all-time home run leader prior to Thursday afternoon's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on A
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Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds returns to AT&T Park Friday night as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins. Giants fans talked about the all-time home run leader prior to Thursday afternoon's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on A

One night in late September 2007, Peter Magowan, then the Giants’ owner, walked into the home clubhouse at AT&T Park looking for Barry Bonds.

Bonds, the Giants’ star left fielder, was not playing that night because of an injured toe. Magowan recalled visiting the clubhouse around the second inning to find him.

“I expected to come back out in about the third inning,” Magowan said. “Instead, I came out about the seventh inning because we had a very long conversation.”

Magowan told Bonds, who had broken the record for career home runs the previous month, the Giants did not intend to re-sign him for the following season. Bonds was 43 years old and nearing the end of a season in which he’d hit 28 home runs and led the majors with a .480 on-base percentage. Magowan said their talk centered on the Giants’ rationale for not wanting to bring him back.

“The reason I used was the same reason that Branch Rickey used as the general manager of the Pirates (in 1953) when he had to let go of what was probably the best hitter in the National League at the time, Ralph Kiner,” Magowan recalled this week.

“(Rickey) got Ralph into his office or whatever and said, ‘I’m sorry to say after all these years the time has come to part company,’ ” Magowan said. “Ralph said, ‘Well, how can this be? I’m your best player.’ And Mr. Rickey said, ‘Ralph, we’re in last place with you. We can just as well be in last place without you.’ 

Bonds played his final game in a Giants uniform a few days later – Sept. 26 – in the team’s final home game of the season. The 11-3 loss to the Padres was meaningless for the Giants, who finished the season 20 games under .500. Bonds played six innings and batted three times, flying out to deep center field against Jake Peavy in the final at-bat of his career.

While Bonds has returned to AT&T Park numerous times as a spectator, this weekend he returns to the field as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins. People who were around Bonds for his final season, or at the stadium for his final game, recalled witnessing his final appearance in a Giants uniform – and the end of one of baseball’s most prolific and controversial careers.

Magowan: We were in the third year of a losing streak and needed to go in a different direction. We needed to get younger, we needed to emphasize our farm system – which we were in the process of doing, but we needed to do more of it. And keeping Barry was just not in sync with the direction the organization felt it needed to go.

Bruce Bochy, then in his first season as the Giants’ manager: The baton was being passed to a younger group, a young, good core group. But obviously at that time when you thought of the Giants, you thought of Barry Bonds. So you realize the page is being turned and that you’re going to move forward without one of the greatest hitters of all time.

Mike Krukow, Giants broadcaster: At the time we thought that he would surface as a DH in the American League. We had no idea that his career was going to come to an end. But we realized that we were watching the Giants era of Barry Bonds come to an end, and it was incredibly emotional for us.

Barry Bloom, national columnist for MLB.com: He had missed time with an injured toe. And typical with Barry, because the Giants were out of it, people were doubting whether Barry really wanted to play. There was a lot of innuendo and stuff about it. When I got to the park (that day), he pulled up his socks and showed me the toe, which was so beat up and black and blue. He said, ‘I really can’t even play on it, but I’m going to go out and play on it today.’

Randy Winn, former Giants outfielder: His mood wasn’t any different. There was no reminiscing; there was no ceremony. Sometimes people go up and get autographs because you don’t know if that person’s coming back or might retire. There really wasn’t a whole lot of that.

Mike Murphy, former Giants clubhouse manager: He didn’t want anything done. He just wanted to leave quietly.

Renel Brooks-Moon, AT&T Park public address announcer: I do know the energy in the house was palpable that day. You could feel that everybody was kind of feeling like this was the end. I could kind of sense that vibe.

Duane Kuiper, Giants broadcaster: Before every broadcast we do a tease – it’s the first thing you hear. And it’s the only tease that I almost cried in. They put some music to it, and it really got me, because I knew, with all the great at-bats I had a chance to broadcast with him at the plate, maybe he was going to get two at-bats, maybe three, but this was it. This was going to be the last time he would take the field.


The announced attendance at AT&T Park that night was 42,926. According to accounts of the game, Bonds was cheered loudly in the first inning as he jogged out to left field, where the Giants had painted his number on the grass, and he tipped his cap to the crowd.

Montages of his career highlights played on the scoreboard before the game and between innings. Bonds grounded out in his first two at-bats. In the sixth he hit a fastball from Peavy to deep center field, where it was caught by Brady Clark. Bonds hugged Peavy and waved to fans as he left the field, gave a brief curtain call, then returned to the clubhouse.


Brooks-Moon: During the lineups and everything, I couldn’t even get his name out. I heard the crowd before I even finished announcing his name. I think I said, ‘Batting fourth,’ or whatever, and then that was it. I could barely hear myself at that point.

Bloom: I thought the whole day was pretty melancholy. Here’s a guy that broke perhaps baseball’s greatest record. And really he was just going out with very little fanfare.

Dave Albee, former columnist for the Marin Independent Journal: People were wanting more. The fans always embraced him, I think. I think to the end they embraced him – a ‘You may not like him, but he’s our guy, and we’re going to love him to the end’ type of thing.

Winn: The game doesn’t really stand out. And I think part of that is because there was so much hype and ceremony for every home run leading up to it, if that makes sense. Like 714 was huge, 715 was huge, 755. That’s all huge. So a game where he gets three at-bats and nothing happens, and his number’s painted (on the grass), it’s kind of like, ‘Well …’ We had it really, really big – big celebrations, big toasts, Hank Aaron on the scoreboard. We had all that already. So that game doesn’t really stand out to me.

Kuiper: I remember his last at-bat. I actually thought that ball he hit was going to go out. And I really believe that Peavy grooved (the pitch). He may admit it; he may not.

Peavy: That was a game (the Padres) had to win. That’s a tough situation to be in, when you’re facing a guy that’s iconic in an area, because you want to let him swing the bat, but he’s the best player on the team, so you don’t want the best player on the team to beat you. Thankfully, we were able to get a significant lead in that game, and I was able to throw him some pitches to hit in his last at-bat. Fortunately, for me, he just (missed).

Albee: (Bonds) stopped by the mound and said something to Peavy, kind of a cordial exchange.

Peavy: He just came over and hugged me. We both said we enjoyed competing against each other and went our separate ways.

Kuiper: If you’re pretty emotional, for me, the best thing to do is not talk. I think I said about as little as you can possibly say, other than just saying goodbye.

Bruce Hongola, Giants fan: Everybody knew, OK, this is his final game here. I think because of the whole steroid issue the crowd held back a little. But he waved goodbye, with the cap; he waved goodbye to everybody. So he got a send-off, similar to the celebration when he broke the record.

Matt Cain, Giants pitcher: For me, that was like, OK, this is how it’s supposed to be done. This is how a team kind of sends somebody off that has meant so much to them for so many years. Being a young kid, that’d be something special to be able to have a team and a city respect you in that sort of way. And you could see it was very appreciated by him.

Robert Collins, Giants fan: I had mixed emotions: On the one hand, I’m going to miss Barry; but on the other hand, it’s going to be fun to see this young group of players come up and see what they can do – never, ever dreaming that within three years I’d see them win a World Series.

Albee: Once he went into the clubhouse with all his gear, he packed up his stuff and was gone by the end of the game. He said his goodbyes when he left the field. He didn’t stick around to wave goodbye at the end. I think a lot of people might have hoped for that, for this more regal ending to his career than a fly-ball out.

Brian Sabean, then-Giants general manager and now executive vice president of baseball operations: He certainly wasn’t going to have a chance to go out in bigger and better fashion. He got denied that chance simply because the team was completely out of things by the time he was walking away.

Winn: I figured either the Giants would bring him back in the 11th hour, or for sure somebody else would sign him – the Yankees, somebody like that – just because of the presence he still commanded in the lineup. Watching how people pitched to him, there was still fear. Guys still felt like, ‘If I miss out over the plate, he’s going to take me deep.’

Sabean: I knew that we were parting ways, but I really thought somebody would see that he could still contribute and be a force in a lineup, especially as a DH.

Krukow: We still realized that we were watching the best that we were ever going to see and had ever seen. And from that perspective, there was melancholy surrounding that last game; there was sadness surrounding the last game. Usually when a guy’s career was as incredible as Bonds’ was, there’s a celebration. And there was no celebration at the end. And I think that was kind of sad.

Murphy: No one’s worn 25 (for the Giants), as you can see, since he left.


Bonds finished his 22-year career with 762 home runs, 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBIs, 14 All-Star selections and seven MVP awards. He became eligible for Hall of Fame voting in 2013 but appeared on just 36.2 percent of ballots that year and 44.3 percent in the most recent vote, numbers affected by Bonds’ connection to performance-enhancing drugs during his career. In 2014, the Giants made Bonds a special hitting instructor for a week at spring training. In December, the Marlins hired Bonds as their full-time hitting coach.


Krukow: Bonds was something that we’d never seen before, the perfect combination of average and power, with a savant-like intelligence to the game.

Sabean: We all saw the difference-maker he was. It’s very difficult to do in our sport. At times it looked like a video game.

Albee: I don’t vote for him for the Hall of Fame. But he is without question the greatest baseball player I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I remember being in the press box, before all the cloud of controversy and performance-enhancing drugs came in, sitting there being amazed at what he could do with so little to see during a game. He would be lucky to get one pitch to hit in a game. And he would make it count.

Brooks-Moon: Seeing him in a Miami Marlins uniform is going to take some getting used to. I mean, I’ve obviously seen him in it already, but here in this house, the house that he helped build, that’s going to be a jolt, I think.

Sabean: I think (it will be strange). We’ve seen him in the black and orange so long. He was so into being a Giant and being from and living in the Bay Area – he really understood the fans’ investment in him and appreciation.

Bonds: No, it’s not going to feel strange. That’s my home. That will always be my home. I don’t feel strange at home.

Krukow: I think his coming back to the game just basically confirms what we’ve always felt about the guy. He loves the game. In the end, if you go and retire and see the world or whatever you want, you’re still going to come back to the game. It’s what you are.

Bonds: It will be different being on the opposite side. But it’s expected. This is the job I chose. This is what I decided to do.

Kuiper: He meant a lot to us; he really did. And I don’t know if this ballpark would be built if it wasn’t for him. A lot of people say yes; some say no. But he had a lot to do with it. There’s no doubt about that.

Matt Kawahara: 916-321-1015, @matthewkawahara

The Miami Herald contributed to this report.

Padres 11, Giants 3

Padres ab

r

h

bi

bb

so

Avg

Giles rf

5

2

2

0

0

2

.271

Lane rf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.176

Hairston lf

5

1

1

1

0

0

.248

Kouzmanoff 3b

4

1

2

2

1

0

.280

A.Gonzalez 1b

4

1

1

0

1

1

.275

K.Greene ss

5

2

2

2

0

1

.252

Bard c

5

3

4

3

0

0

.286

Blum 2b

5

0

2

1

0

0

.248

Clark cf

4

0

1

1

1

0

.256

Peavy p

4

1

2

1

0

1

.229

Hampson p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

1-Sledge ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.203

Ledezma p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Totals 43

11

17

11

3

7

Giants ab

r

h

bi

bb

so

avg

Roberts cf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.258

d-Velez ph-lf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.200

Frandsen 2b-ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.269

Winn rf

3

1

1

1

0

0

.298

e-McClain ph-1b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.222

Bonds lf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.276

Messenger p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Giese p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

f-Alfonzo ph

1

1

1

0

0

0

.268

B.Molina c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.276

Gu.Rodriguez c

0

0

0

0

1

0

.241

Ortmeier 1b-rf

3

0

2

1

1

0

.276

Feliz 3b

4

1

1

0

0

2

.249

Vizquel ss

1

0

0

0

0

0

.242

a-Durham ph-2b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.218

Misch p

1

0

1

0

0

0

.111

Munter p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

b-Schierholtz ph

0

0

0

1

0

0

.284

Threets p

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Lewis lf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.285

c-Davis ph-cf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.280

Totals 32

3

8

3

2

3

San Diego

020

061

110

11

17

0

Giants

100

010

001

3

8

1

1-Struck out for Hampson in the 9th. a-Singled for Vizquel in the 5th. b-Hit a sacrifice fly for Munter in the 5th. c-Flied out for Lewis in the 8th. d-Struck out for Roberts in the 8th. e-Grounded into a forceout for Winn in the 8th. f-Singled for Giese in the 9th. E–Bonds (4). LOB–San Diego 8, Giants 5. 2B–Bard 2 (25), Blum (19), AGonzalez (44), Kouzmanoff (30). HR–Winn (14), Hairston (10). RBIs–Bard 3 (50), Blum (30), Kouzmanoff 2 (72), K.Greene 2 (91), Clark (9), Peavy (7), Hairston (31); Winn (62), Schierholtz (9), Ortmeier (14). SF–Schierholtz (2, off Peavy). 2-out RBI–Peavy, Winn. Runners left in scoring position–Giles; K.Greene 2; Blum. RISP–San Diego 6 for 15, Giants 1 for 3. DP–San Diego 2 (A.Gonzalez-K.Greene-A.Gonzalez, Kouzmanoff-Blum-A.Gonzalez). GIDP–Roberts, Durham.

San Diego

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Peavy, W (19-6)

7

5

2

2

1

1

1

2.36

Hampson

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

2.73

Ledezma

1

2

1

1

1

1

0

5.61

Giants

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Misch, L (0-4)

4 1/3

9

8

8

2

1

0

4.24

Munter

 2/3

2

0

0

0

1

0

3.72

Threets

1

2

1

1

0

1

0

19.29

Messenger

1 2/3

4

2

2

1

2

1

3.98

Giese

1 1/3

0

0

0

0

2

0

4

Inherited runners-scored–Munter 1-1, Giese 2-0. IBB–A.Gonzalez (Misch). PB–B.Molina (16).

Umpires–Home, Marty Foster; First, Paul Schrieber; Second, Tim McClelland; Third, Fieldin Culbreth.

T–2:36. A–42,926 (41,195).

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