OAKLAND, Calif. -- The agonizing wait is over for Barry Bonds. He and the Babe are even at 714.
Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run
list Saturday, ending a nine-game slump with a shot into the first
deck of the elevated stands in right-center during San Francisco's
4-2, 10-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The second-inning drive landed about eight rows up in the seats
overlooking the high fence just to the left of the out-of-town
scoreboard. Though the A's don't provide estimated distances on
home runs, this one appeared to travel about 400 feet -- far from
being one of Bonds' trademark behemoth drives.
Booed when he was introduced before the game, the Giants' star
received a long standing ovation after his home run, and the game
was delayed about 90 seconds.
Next up is Hank Aaron's record of 755.
Bonds, dogged by allegations of steroid use and repeated taunts
on the road, was immediately greeted by his teammates after
circling the bases. They surrounded him at the top of the dugout as
Bonds tipped his cap and blew a kiss to his wife and two daughters
sitting in the first row.
Bonds had gone 29 at-bats without a homer since hitting No. 713
with a 450-foot shot May 7 in Philadelphia. His teenage son,
Nikolai, a Giants bat boy, was waiting for him at home plate and
The Giants plan to commemorate No. 715 in their own ballpark.
Major League Baseball has said it won't do anything special to
celebrate Bonds moving into second place, and a commissioner's
office spokesman said baseball had no comment Saturday.
The ball was caught on the fly by 19-year-old Tyler Snyder of
nearby Pleasanton, who was cheered by fans around him and quickly
left the Coliseum with his souvenir.
Left-hander Brad Halsey became the 420th pitcher to allow a
homer to Bonds, who was San Francisco's designated hitter in an
interleague series against the A's.
"It's a pretty unbelievable thing," Astros reliever Brad Lidge
said in Houston, where the Giants swept a three-game series earlier
in the week. "No matter what kind of controversy surrounds him and
no matter what side of the fence you are on as far as what he did
or didn't do with performance-enhancing drugs, you've got to admit
that it's a pretty impressive number."
The seven-time NL MVP was booed when his name was announced
before the game and again the moment he began walking to the
batter's box. He connected on a 1-1 pitch from Halsey, making
history with his sixth home run this season.
Bonds came to the plate in the third to chants of "Barry!
Barry!" and struck out looking. He flied out to left leading off
the sixth and was intentionally walked in the eighth and again in
the 10th with none out and runners on second and third.
"I'm not anti-Barry Bonds. I'm not pro-Barry Bonds," said
Astros reliever Russ Springer, suspended four games Friday for
hitting Bonds with a pitch Tuesday night. "He's a good player. I
enjoy watching him play. He's one of the better hitters. I'm just
glad he didn't hit it here and he can hit all he wants somewhere
Bonds had hoped to reach his latest milestone home run at home
in San Francisco, where he hit Nos. 500, 600 and 700 along with 660
and 661 to tie and pass his godfather, Willie Mays. In 2001, Bonds
hit the final three of his 73 homers at home to break Mark
McGwire's single-season record of 70.
Still, the slugger had to be happy to hit No. 714 back in the
Bay Area in front of his family and friends. Only six days earlier,
Bonds suggested he was being haunted by "two ghosts" -- a
reference to Ruth and Aaron.
Ruth passed Sam Thompson to move into second place on June 20,
1921, when he hit his 127th home run. Aaron passed Ruth in April
1974 -- and now Hammerin' Hank's mark is the only one left for Bonds
Yet Bonds has said that could be a long shot considering he
turns 42 on July 24, is playing on a surgically repaired right knee
and with bone chips floating around in his left elbow.
In his 21st major league season, Bonds has hit nine career home
runs as a designated hitter -- and realizes his future could be in
the American League as a DH if he returns in 2007.
Bonds had 40 plate appearances between Nos. 713 and 714. He had
been 4-for-29 (.138) with 10 walks, three intentional, six runs
scored, two RBI and four strikeouts since his last homer.
"He finally hit it? It's about time," said Ken Griffey Jr.,
who entered the night with 539 career homers, in the Cincinnati
Reds' clubhouse in Detroit. "Now I don't have to keep watching TV
to see him do it."
He was destined for greatness at an early age. The son of
three-time All-Star Bobby Bonds and the godson of one of the game's
greatest players in Mays, Bonds spent his childhood years roaming
the clubhouse at Candlestick Park, getting tips from Mays and other
In a matter of years, Bonds went from a wiry leadoff hitter when
he broke into the big leagues with Pittsburgh in 1986 to the most
feared slugger of his generation and possibly ever.
It was a transformation many -- including federal prosecutors in
the BALCO case -- believe was fueled by the use of
performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds has long denied ever knowingly
taking steroids, though the new book "Game of Shadows" reveals
his alleged longtime doping regimen the authors say began after the
1998 season when Bonds saw the attention McGwire and Sammy Sosa
generated in their race for the single-season home run record.
Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to his
role in a steroid distribution ring, and a federal grand jury is
looking into whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified to
the separate grand jury that indicted Anderson and three others in
the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal.
One fan in the front row behind home plate Saturday sported a
No. 25 Bonds jersey with BALCO on the back where Bonds' name should
Partly because of his prickly relationship with fans and the
media, Bonds was never a beloved superstar even before the steroid
allegations. He was not voted by fans onto baseball's All-Century
team, losing out to Griffey, among others.
But the latest accusations have hurt his reputation even more,
and the anticipation as he neared Ruth's mark was tempered for that
reason. Just as when Aaron passed the Babe in 1974, there is
resentment among those who believe Ruth is the greatest player
ever, although this time it's more because of steroids than racism.
The allegations of cheating have put a cloud over Bonds' rapid
rise up the home run chart. He hit his 500th homer on April 17,
2001, on the way to a record 73 that season, and reached 700 on
Sept. 17, 2004, a stretch unmatched by any player at the end of his
Before the bottom of the 11th inning in the Yankees' 5-4,
11-inning win over the Mets at Shea Stadium, a message on the
scoreboard announced Bonds' 714th homer, and the crowd booed.
"I still remember Barry Bonds as a great player, regardless of
steroids or what," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "How many home
runs would he have hit without whatever people are saying is going
on? I don't know. I know one thing: That player-wise, he's pretty
Bonds has said his many milestones won't mean as much later if
he doesn't win a World Series ring, the only thing missing from a
decorated resume featuring the record seven NL MVP awards, 13
All-Star selections and eight Gold Gloves in left field.
The Giants fell six outs short of winning it all in 2002 when
they blew their lead in Game 6 and lost in the deciding seventh
game to the Angels. While Bonds was at his best that postseason,
with eight homers and 27 walks, it was his struggles in his first
five trips to the playoffs with Pittsburgh and San Francisco that
characterized his career before he became a record-setting home run
No matter the controversy, his home fans still adore him,
chanting his name when he comes to bat and waving yellow rubber
chickens whenever an opposing manager makes the most unpopular
choice to intentionally walk him.
It is Bonds, after all, who is the biggest reason 3 million fans
a year pack the seats at the Giants' sparkling waterfront ballpark,
which opened in 2000.
Ray Durham hit a go-ahead RBI single to score Omar Vizquel in
the 10th, Steve Finley added a sacrifice fly in the inning and Mike
Matheny homered in the seventh as the Giants ended a four-game
losing streak in the Bay Bridge Series.
Jason Schmidt pitched into the ninth before missing his chance
to win a fourth straight decision. Armando Benitez (3-0) blew his
second save but recovered for the win, while Kiko Calero (0-1)
loaded the bases in the 10th on the way to the loss.