SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds became baseball's all-time walks leader Sunday, breaking Rickey Henderson's major league record when he drew his 2,191st from Oakland reliever Chad Bradford in the eighth inning.
The San Francisco slugger had an 0-2 count then drew four
straight balls from Bradford. Bonds received a standing ovation,
walked to first and picked up the base to save as a memento of the
milestone. The Giants lost 9-6.
"I don't know how to react to a walks record," Bonds said. "It's just
another one. I'd rather hit, but the circumstances it's just what
it is. I need a ring with all these other records."
The six-time NL MVP walked on a 3-2 pitch by Oakland starter Mark Mulder leading off the sixth inning. The A's were leading 8-3. Bonds was plunked on the right hand in the second inning and threw his bat down in pain and frustration, but stayed in the game. He
hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
"That's incredible," Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda said. "I
never thought anybody was going to break it. That's unreal. Barry's
a cleanup hitter. Henderson was a leadoff hitter who's supposed to
walk. Wow. Unbelievable. Awesome!"
Bonds, the most feared slugger in the game, has been drawing
walks at a remarkable rate in recent years as few teams are willing
to challenge him. He has 121 walks in the Giants' first 82
games, including 63 intentional passes, and is on pace to shatter
his single-season record of 198 set in 2002.
"That's a big accomplishment," manager Felipe Alou said
Saturday in anticipation of the record-breaking walk. "There are
two things: You have to be a great player and you have to be a
healthy player. Barry is not a guy who has had a major injury. You
also have to be good enough to make it in the lineup every day."
Bonds also walked 177 times in 2001 when he set the
single-season home run mark with 73, and 148 times in 130 games
He's likely to see more balls in the coming series against the Rockies. Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said he won't pitch to Bonds.
"If he can beat us, he is going to have to move on down the line," Hurdle said. "I don't like it, but that's just the way it is."
Frequent walks are slowing Bonds' progress to a much more substantial record: Hank Aaron's career home run mark of 755.
Bonds has gone deep 22 times this year and has 680 for his career,
trailing only Aaron and Babe Ruth (714).
If he keeps up his pace of more than a walk a game, Bonds
figures to open some distance from Henderson's mark in his final
few seasons. But Alou figures that someday another player will come
around to challenge that mark.
"There are no untouchable records," Alou said Saturday.
"There's always a Barry Bonds somewhere. There's always somebody
being born and trained -- a phenom."