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Bonds lets his numbers do the talking

 Historic Night
Barry Bonds sums up his record-breaking season.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2004
Bonds sets single-season home run record
By Bob Carter
Special to

Signature Game
Oct. 5, 2001 -- Babe Ruth's single-season home-run record of 60 lasted 34 years. Roger Maris' mark of 61 stood for 37 seasons. When Mark McGwire set his record with 70 in 1998, it was expected the record would endure for at least three decades, probably much longer.

Who knew that it would fall just three years later?

With three games left in the 2001 season, Barry Bonds erased McGwire's mark from the record book. With the bases empty in the first inning, he belted No. 71, a 442-foot shot into the right-centerfield bleachers at Pac Bell Park off Los Angeles Dodgers righthander Chan Ho Park. An elated Bonds trotted around the bases and was mobbed by his teammates at the plate and his 11-year-old son, Nikolai.

Bonds slipped into the dugout for a short time and talked by cell phone with his father, former major leaguer Bobby, before returning to the field. As a "71" flashed on the scoreboard and fireworks soared above the outfield, the San Francisco Giants outfielder hugged his wife, Liz, and daughter Aisha, as well as his mother, Pat.

In the third inning, Bonds extended his record with another solo homer. No. 72, also off Park, cleared the wall in centerfield at the 404-foot mark. The sellout crowd of 41,730 jumped to its feet, chanting "Barry! Barry!"

Before and after the historic homers, the day was not a good one for Bonds. Earlier, he attended the burial of close friend and former bodyguard Franklin Bradley.

As for the game, the Giants lost, 11-10, in the longest nine-inning game in major league history (four hours and 27 minutes). It eliminated them from postseason contention.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Bonds' aunt, Rosie Bonds, was a world-class hurdler. She was on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team and once held the women's national record in the 80-meter hurdles.

  • In high school, Bonds played football and basketball besides baseball.

  • As an Arizona State sophomore, he had seven consecutive hits in the College World Series, tying an NCAA record.

  • Bonds played with several future major leaguers while at Arizona State, including Mike Devereaux and Doug Henry.

  • His first major league hit came on May 31, 1986, a double off Los Angeles' Rick Honeycutt.

  • His first homer was off the Braves' Craig McMurtry on June 4, 1986, in Atlanta. Bonds had four hits in the game, a 12-3 Pirates victory.

  • Bonds almost won four consecutive National League MVP awards. After winning in 1990, he narrowly missed out the next season when Atlanta's baseman Terry Pendleton beat him, 274-259. Bonds then was voted MVP in 1992 and 1993, making him the first to win the award three times in four years.

  • In spring training of 1991, Bonds got into an argument during a practice with Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland. At one point Leyland hollered, "I've kissed your butt for three years! If you don't want to be here, then get your butt off the field!"

  • Bonds went through a long, bitter and much-publicized divorce fight with his first wife, Sun. The couple was divorced in 1994 after six years of marriage, and a legal battle over a prenuptial contract wasn't settled until 2000 -- in Bonds' favor.

  • He won the home run derby at the 1996 All-Star Game, beating Mark McGwire 3-2 in the final round. He had 17 homers in the contest, more than any competitor.

  • Bonds set a Giants record for consecutive games played, 357. The streak ended on Aug. 25, 1996.

  • On his lack of popularity in the clubhouse, Bonds said: "My job does not say, 'Walk in the locker room and kiss butt.' It says, 'Go to work.' I say hello sometimes, and sometimes I don't."

  • Bobby Bonds, his father, was a fleet outfielder with power who set strikeout records. He also had a rough time with the press. "All the writers kept talking about was my potential," Bobby said. " 'You haven't reached your potential,' they would say. Well, unless you [reporters] win a Pulitzer Prize, you haven't reached your potential, either!"

  • In father-son statistics, Bonds and his dad are the all-time leaders in homers, RBI and stolen bases.

  • When the Giants played Seattle on June 18, 1997, the teams had four sons of former major leaguers in the lineups, a record: Bonds and Stan Javier of the Giants (son of former Cardinal infielder Julian Javier), and Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Cruz Jr. of the Mariners.

  • With Arizona leading the Giants 8-6, manager Buck Showalter walked Bonds intentionally with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning in a May 1998 game. The Diamondbacks won 8-7.

  • Bonds' 400th homer came Aug. 23, 1998, off the Florida Marlins' Kirt Ojala.

  • Bonds uses a 34-inch, 31.5-ounce maple bat manufactured in Ottawa. It's two-toned, black on the barrel with a red handle.

  • He's one of the few sluggers who chokes up on the bat. That style developed as a youngster when he often picked up heavy big-league bats that his father brought home.

  • Bonds reached 500 homers in 7,501 at-bats, the eighth-fastest to do so. McGwire, who got his 500th in 1999, is the fastest: 5,487 at-bats.

  • Bonds helped the Giants clinch the NL West title in 2000 with a career-best 14-game hitting streak in September. He batted .426 (20-for-47) during the streak, with nine homers and 22 RBI.

  • Bonds’ salary in 2001 was $10.3 million.

  • Despite his career-high 137 RBI in 2001, Bonds finished fourth in the National League.

  • In 2001, Bonds was the first home-run champ in either league whose total was more than half his runs batted in. The figure was 53.3 percent.

  • With his .863 slugging percentage, Bonds obliterated the National League record of .756, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1925. Babe Ruth’s major league record was .847, set in 1920.

  • Bonds homered once every 6.52 at-bats in 2001, breaking the mark of 7.27 set by McGwire in 1998.

  • After hitting just one home run in 97 at-bats in four losing playoff series, he blasted a record eight homers in 45 at-bats and hit .356 in 2002. He also set marks for most walks in a postseason (27) and World Series (13).

  • Bonds was a playoff disappointment again in 2003, batting just .222 with no homers as the Giants lost the NLDS to the Florida Marlins. His lifetime postseason average is .245.

  • On April 13, 2004, Bonds passed Willie Mays to become No. 3 on the all-time homer list with his 661st with his blast in San Francisco off Milwaukee's Ben Ford into McCovey Cove.

  • A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Bonds has made several television and movie appearances.

  • Bonds lives in Los Altos Hills, Calif., with his wife Liz, whom he met in Montreal and married in January 1998, and daughter Aisha. He also has a son and a daughter from his previous marriage. His son Nikolai was a batboy at the 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle.

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