Barry Bonds has hit many momentous home runs in his career. Let me run some numbers by you. 500. 600. 660. 700. 714. 755. 756. 71. 73. Those are the numbers many fans will remember Barry by.
Since the age of eight, Barry has impacted and added excitement to my life through his home runs. But none of the numbers mentioned above are among the ones that live on in my memory. Here are my five favorite home runs hit by the cockiest, most egotistical and conceded, yet entirely lovable player that ever played.
5) Although I wasn’t actually at this game, I watched it on TV. It was game 2 in Anaheim, in that series that we Giants fans don’t talk about. It’s the ninth inning, we’ve lost the game already, and Barry is batting against the Angels closer. With the best fastball in the pitcher’s bag, Barry hit the ball further than the cameras could track it. The only usable footage from the whole scenario was when Angels designated hitter Troy Glaus, known for knocking balls a mile long as well, was caught saying that the ball Barry hit was “the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit.” I still don’t know if that ball ever landed. No camera caught it landing. All I know is that Barry didn’t see another pitch to hit until spring training.
4) Going off of the longest balls ever seen hit theme, home run number 699 in Phoenix was the longest I’ve ever seen. I was with my girlfriend at the time, seated nicely in the right field bleachers, hoping for the chance to catch number 700 while attempting to convert my girl from a Diamondback to a Giants fan. Barry gets up, again in the ninth, with the Giants winning by five or so runs. He has played all game, but is oh for oh, with three walks. The hometown fans have booed their own team more than Barry for their four fingered decisions. Jose Cruz, that a hundred and thirty pound relief pitcher with more confidence in fastball than Kanye in his lyrics tried to blow one by Barry in a two oh count. That fastball hit off the jumbo tron, just below Barry’s smiling face, and a guy who had seen fourteen balls and one strike all game had just hit a ball four hundred and seventy-two feet into dead center. My girlfriend was mad because we didn’t get the ball. I was in awe. The next pitch Pedro Felix hit a ball that would have decapitated anyone in its path one row behind us.
3) We know Barry Bonds doesn’t do BP. Its always a disappointment showing up two hours early to a game to see someone like Omar Vizquel slap bloopers to the opposite field when you want to see Barry park them in the bay. But one day I got lucky. I saw from my left field bleacher seat that number 25 was strolling to the cage. I got up and raced to Old Navy’s splash landing in hopes of seeing his balls fly over my head and into the water. As I jogged over to the area, Barry hit a ball right at me, in deep right center. I usually bring my glove, but of course, not today. It was a line drive, which I put my hands up partly in defense, and partly in hopes of having a barehanded catch. Whatever hopes of being the hero diminished when the ball went right through my hands and smashed into my jaw, with the ball dropping to the ground and six people swarming in for a chance at a BP Barry ball. Adrenaline stymied the pain, I scooped up the ball on one bounce, and I went home with a souvenir from the bat adorned with those golden butterfly emblems.
2) Besides BP, Barry doesn’t do overtime. He is usually out by the eighth inning, but since it was a beautiful opening day in April, Barry had to stick around until his at bat in the tenth. With runners on first and second, no outs, my whole little league baseball team stood on Old Navy’s splash landing with standing room only tickets. With the first pitch he saw, Barry ended the game with a walk off homer down the right field line. What I remember is that he did it with so much grace, so much ease, that it was as if he perform the same feat at any time he wanted.
1) My dad coached me for eleven years in Little League. We always had a connection on the playing field, with him offering me pointers, encouragement, support, and I absorbing everything he had to say. Our relationship was at its best when we were between the lines. When he came down to visit me in Tucson one year during my time at the University of Arizona, we made the hundred mile drive to Phoenix to see the Giants take on the D’Backs. We had bought tickets months in advance in the left field bleachers to watch our star lazily assume his role in left field. The problem was, Barry hadn’t played in three weeks. Bobby Bonds, his father, who Barry had always made it clear that the two were close with baseball, had passed away. Barry was taking it very hard, from what we had read in the press. I remember the pre-game show mentioning that he had flown from Los Angeles to Phoenix the night before, for the last game of the series, but wasn’t expected to play. As my dad and I watched Randy Johnson pop the catcher’s mitt in the bullpen during warm-ups, we heard the Giants lineup announced. Batting fourth and playing left field…
The first pitch Barry saw from Randy Johnson was an inside fastball that landed in the back of the right field bleachers. It was unbelievable to see that moment transpire. Everything seemed like it was slow motion. Barry rounded third like a Little Leaguer being forced to run out to right field, but when he crossed home plate his traditional, “point to the sky” was ten times longer than it usually is.
There could be no better moment for my dad, who had been taking me to Bay Area baseball games since the time I could talk, and I to share.