If there was ever a baseball purgatory, Barry Lamar Bonds had a 61/2-year lease on a one-bedroom, one-bath duplex in it.
He was essentially sent there after the 2007 season by the Giants, for whom he helped fill the seats in their first seven seasons at AT&T Park.
No matter if the Giants were headed for the World Series or finishing last in the National League West, the ballpark was filled to near capacity for each game, and viewers at home stopped to watch as Bonds swung for the fences. Bonds, however, had become the poster child of the Steroid Era. Not that what he allegedly did was more or less than what others did to gain an edge, his star just shone brighter.
By the final year of his contract in 2007, when Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become baseball’s all-time home run king with 762 dingers, the heat that came with the cash was too much for the Giants to take.
The Giants, along with every other baseball club, turned their backs on Bonds, who still possessed the ability and desire to play.
After 61/2 years and two World Series championships, it was the right move, the right time for the Giants to welcome Bonds back Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the game’s only seven-time N.L. MVP will serve this week as a special instructor.
Who knows? Maybe the team will retire his number and welcome him into the same fraternity where his godfather, Willie Mays, resides.
Maybe, with the Giants welcoming Bonds back, baseball will, too. And just maybe that will finally get him a lifetime lease in Cooperstown, N.Y.
– Victor Contreras
Will Barry Bonds’ return to the Giants open the door to the Hall of Fame?
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