SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds has sought Willie Mays'
approval ever since he was old enough to tag along with his
godfather in the San Francisco Giants' clubhouse. Six MVPs, a
single-season record 73 home runs, and countless other
accomplishments never felt like quite enough.
Hitting his 660th homer to tie Mays for third place on the
career list has done the trick.
Bonds hit a towering three-run shot Monday that splashed into
McCovey Cove, sending the Giants to a 7-5 win over the Milwaukee
"It was like a weight was just lifted off my shoulders," Bonds
said. "I felt a sense of accomplishment in baseball. It's a relief
now to be able to stand next to my godfather and finally feel like
I've accomplished something in the game of baseball. It was a big
way of getting his approval that I've finally done something."
Bonds connected in the fifth inning on a 3-1 pitch from Matt
Kinney (0-1) for his second homer of the season. The estimated
442-foot blast put the Giants ahead 5-4. It was the 28th time Bonds
has homered into the water.
The 39-year-old Bonds was greeted at home by several teammates
and he stepped on the plate, raised both hands in the air and
pointed to the sky.
Mays, who turns 73 next month, hurried to congratulate Bonds,
giving his godson a hug and a kiss outside the dugout. Mays
presented him with a torch decorated with 25 tiny diamonds,
symbolic of the number Bonds wears. They both carried the torch
before the 2002 Olympics.
Bonds came back out of the dugout and waved to the fans in each
direction as they cheered, "Barry! Barry!" and gave him a
standing ovation. The sellout crowd of 42,548 seemed to forget
about the steroid controversy surrounding their star slugger and
his personal trainer.
"The fans appreciate a good baseball player," manager Felipe
Alou said. "I know some guys were booing, but they love the guy."
Children along the left-field wall bowed to Bonds when he came
out to play the field in the top of the sixth. A banner of Bonds
was unfurled from the light tower to the left side of the main
center-field scoreboard to match one of Mays on the other side.
"I think this is probably the icing on the cake," Bonds said.
"I really wish my dad could have been here to be part of it. ... I
just really can't believe it, being 4 years old when my dad came up
into the major leagues and having an idol like Willie Mays take me
under his wing, and now being up in front of all of you people
answering questions what it's like to tie the man you respected and
honored your entire life."
Mays has been a mentor to Bonds since the slugger's father,
Bobby, died last August.
Hank Aaron leads the career list with 755 home runs, followed by
Babe Ruth with 714.
Mays hit his 660th on Aug. 17, 1973, as a member of the New York
Mets at Shea Stadium off Cincinnati's Don Gullett.
"I don't even recall that. That's many years ago," said Mays,
who preferred to focus on Bonds' accomplishment. "I wanted him to
get it over with. No. 1, I felt like he was pressing. When Barry
swings hard, nothing happens. Today, he made an easy, compact swing
and it goes a long way."
Bonds, who set the single-season homer record in 2001, went five
games without a homer after hitting one last Monday at Houston.
"Maybe I'm just too stupid to walk him every time," Brewers
manager Ned Yost said. "I'd venture to say there's not another
player on this planet better than Barry Bonds."
Bonds has repeatedly said he'd like to pass Mays at home, and
the Giants began a 10-game homestand with a three-game series
against the Brewers.
When Kinney saw Bonds' ball go over the fence, the pitcher
walked backward off the mound and onto the grass, trying to ignore
the slugger's historic home-run trot.
"When I saw him swing I knew it wasn't a good thing," Kinney
Bonds walked on four pitches in the first, then singled in the
third. Bonds took three straight balls in the fifth -- and Kinney
was booed loudly on each -- then fouled a pitch off before hitting
the extra-special shot.
Fireworks went off and it was evident that this indeed was
Bonds' day. Even mayor Gavin Newsom, on hand to toss out the
ceremonial first pitch, had a feeling this would be the day.
"That's as good as it gets," Giants rookie pitcher David
Aardsma said. "I was watching a hero hit a monster home run."
Bonds followed his homer with a bloop double to left in the
seventh that landed between three fielders. He came around to score
an insurance run. In the eighth, Bonds made a running backhanded
catch on a drive by Lyle Overbay.
Bonds received his latest NL MVP award before the game from
nine-time hockey MVP Wayne Gretzky and five-time NBA MVP Bill
"This is a great honor to have Wayne and Bill here. I watched
their careers," Bonds said. "To be honored up here with them is a
great honor myself."
And Bonds was greeted by a nice ovation from the home crowd when
he was introduced before the game in a special ceremony. A few boos
were sprinkled in, but for the most part this crowd seemed to
support him despite the constant questions about whether he's
boosted his career with banned substances.
"For most of us, he's the best player we've ever seen,"
Counsell said. "You are always amazed at him. It's fun to watch
him when he's that good. You don't like it because he beats you, but
there's no question there's an appreciation."
Milwaukee went 1-5 against San Francisco in 2003. ...
Injured Giants closer Robb Nen threw 25 pitches off the mound and
probably will throw again Wednesday. ... RHP ace Jason Schmidt,
sidelined with shoulder soreness, threw a 15-minute bullpen session
and is expected to pitch Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
... Larry Ellison, 53, of Fairfield, caught Bonds' homer, but
returned the ball to the slugger and got to meet the appreciative
Bonds after the game.
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