PHILADELPHIA -- Barry Bonds got another rude welcome in a
city known for its boorish behavior.
In his first game on the East Coast this season, the San Francisco Giants' slugger was greeted with the familiar boos that
have followed him wherever he's played -- except at home.
"You stink, loser," a fan yelled as Bonds walked to the plate
in the first inning of Friday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The boos grew louder when Bonds stepped into the batter's box
and they quickly turned to cheers when he flied out to center field
on the first pitch. Bonds heard it again in the third inning, when
he was intentionally walked with a runner on second and one out. He
grounded into a double play in the fifth and struck out in the
With Bonds in left field, fans in the bleachers behind him
chanted "Just retire" and "Just inject me." A long banner in
left field read: "Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer." Many carried
signs that had simple asterisks on them.
One guy wore a fat suit that was supposed to represent Bonds
with the Giants, while his skinny friend was the pre-pumped Bonds
with the Pirates.
Alex Bues, a college student in Philadelphia originally from
Connecticut, wasn't allowed to bring in a sign that read: "Got
Roids?" However, someone else had a sign that said: "Got Juice?"
Bues wore a white T-shirt in which he wrote in orange and black
marker, "Giant Cheater" on the front and "Disgrace" on the back
above the No. 25.
Bonds entered with 712 home runs, trailing only Babe Ruth's 714
and Hank Aaron's 755.
Bonds has been a target for criticism throughout his career,
especially now that he's facing lingering questions about steroids.
A federal grand jury in San Francisco is investigating whether
Bonds lied under oath when he said he never knowingly used
Fans have vilified Bonds everywhere he's gone this season. But
this is his first trip to a northeast city, where fans are
generally more passionate and emotional. In Philly, they're always
on the edge, mostly because the city hasn't celebrated a
championship since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983.
These fans will always be remembered for booing Santa Claus
during halftime of an Eagles game during a 2-12 season in 1968.
They once cheered the temporary paralysis of Dallas Cowboys wide
receiver Michael Irvin, tossed batteries at St. Louis Cardinals
outfielder J.D. Drew and always give their own players a hard time
when they fail to deliver in clutch situations or appear to not
give an all-out effort.
Bonds first emerged from the dugout at 5:39 p.m., walked to a
spot behind the batting cage and stood there for a few minutes
chatting with a Phillies coach. He waved to fans who hollered his
name as he walked out to left field, where most of the anti-Bonds
fans were located.
An obese man wearing a sleeveless cut-off T-shirt yelled:
"Barry, your head is shrinking." A few minutes later, the same
guy admitted he wished he looked more like Bonds instead of a
reject from a beer-league softball team.
"You see those arms? They're bigger than my legs," the hefty
While the haters took their shots at Bonds, other fans gathered
in the right-field bleachers, hoping for a souvenir. Bonds launched
several drives into the stands during batting practice and one
teenager drew loud cheers for using his Phillies cap to catch one
of the homers.
Another teenager wearing a Yankees jersey and cap caught two of
Bonds' batting-practice shots. He planned to save those balls for
quite a while.
Some fans didn't understand the hype surrounding Bonds' pursuit
"Why is there such a big deal about this? He's not breaking a
record. He's going to be in second place, not first place," a fan
wearing a Bonds jersey said.
Sports radio host Howard Eskin of WIP-AM in Philadelphia spent
the past week telling fans they should walk out of their seats,
turn their backs to Bonds and go up to the concession stands when
he bats. It didn't seem many listened.
"I don't understand the outrage," a caller to the station said
earlier in the day. "Why should I boo Bonds? I didn't boo Mark
McGwire. I didn't boo Sammy Sosa. I didn't boo Brady Anderson. I
think they used steroids."
Bonds got loud boos when the lineups were introduced before the
game, though there was a smattering of cheers. Most saved their
best for the first inning.
In San Francisco's season opener at San Diego, a fan tossed a
syringe near Bonds as he came off the field in between innings.
They stuck to hurling insults in Philly -- at least early in the