It was 10 years ago today that Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record, hitting no. 756. It’s an absurd record that still stands, and we should spend a few minutes remembering how absurd it is.
Bonds happened to do it on McCovey Chronicles Night at the Park, too, which was pretty super.
If you enhance, you’ll see ...
From left to right, that’s Mayor of 311, me, Goofus, and howtheyscored. I didn’t write anything about the home run until the next morning, if you were curious how much things have changed since then.
Anyway, it’s no secret that we’re completely in the tank for Barry Bonds around here, even if he might not be a very nice or approachable human being, or if he handled fame and success differently than we might have. We’ve been documenting our fascination over here. I’ll fix the one about him not being the Home Run King one of these days.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of 756, I would like to share my 10 favorite Barry Bonds home runs. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve already written this, but if I have ... well, don’t tell me. It’s new to me!
This one was memorable enough to get its own oral history from Sports Illustrated, but it can’t even crack my top nine. It’s a good list.
This one was memorable for a few reasons. The first is the reception. Classic New York. They were booing his every move, probably with a slice of Sbarro in each hand, which reinforced my image of Yankees fans perfectly.
The second is the distance. Goodness.
The third is the call. Jon Miller had used a distant location for home run calls in the past, and he might do it again, but this one felt so organic, so perfect. It’s a reminder that hyperbole is the absolute best thing in the world.
Dinged because it came in the loss that knocked the Giants out of the postseason, which made me grumpy all night, even though I should have been giddy. It was still a fun moment.
It was also one of the strangest times to be a baseball fan in my life because of September 11th, in which you knew nothing mattered, but you wanted to be distracted, so you glommed onto baseball until you remembered that nothing mattered. It was a nasty cycle.
Bonds didn’t get a lot of walk-off home runs with the Giants, mostly because teams would rather intentionally walk in a run than give him the chance. This one, then, was perfectly timed. It came against Ray King, who was just good enough to make Bobby Cox gamble.
It was a memorable homer, though, because it came the first game Bonds was back after his father passed away. It was an emotional mess of a home run, and it felt absolutely perfect. I still get chills watching it.
I’ve watched this maybe 48 times, and I’ve laughed each time. I’m laughing right now.
This one needs a touch of context. Bonds needed one more home run to tie Mark McGwire’s record going into Houston for a three-game series.
In the first game, Bonds was 1-for-2 with two walks, one of them intentional.
In the second game, Bonds was 1-for-2 with three walks, one of them intentional.
In the third game, Bonds was 0-for-1 with three walks, one of them intentional, and the entire country was mad at the Astros. They were being twerps.
Toward the end of that third game, though, manager Larry Dierker unveiled his secret weapon, a 22-year-old left-hander who could throw 100 mph, Wilfredo Rodriguez. He was one of the Astros’ best prospects, and he was absolutely nasty. It was almost as if Dierker was thumbing his nose at Bonds in the final game of the series.
Bonds didn’t care. That ball was absolutely crushed.
Rodriguez never appeared in another major league game. That’s mostly because of injuries, but if he wanted to claim that it’s because of Barry Bonds, I don’t think anyone would mind.
The Giants lost this game, but if you want the purest two minutes of the impure Steroid Era, this will do just fine. Artificial power and real talent vs. artificial power and real talent. There’s a reason people still talk about this one 13 years later.
I mean, I was there. That was rad. But it’s hard to put this one up at the top because everyone was expecting it. It was fated to happen at some point, which takes away some of the surprise, which is sort of the best part of a home run.
Unless I’m overthinking it. Either way, it was a great dinger.
This was a walk-off homer against Trevor Hoffman and the Padres in 1995, and it’s the only one for which there isn’t a readily available video on the internet, unfortunately. So I’ll quote my own words!
It was a meaningless, meaningful homer into the bowels of a place that’ll be ash and cinder in less than a year. Neither team won the World Series. Neither team made the playoffs. Neither team meant a damned thing. No one cared. Except I cared. It was real to me, dammit. It was real to me.
On a personal level, it was one of the most meaningful home runs in my life. I don’t know when my casual fandom morphed into an obsessive fandom, but this one home run was in the middle of it. Bonds hit it off Trevor Hoffman, who will make the Hall of Fame before him, even if that’s a glitch, an error in the code, something the techs will be by to fix in the morning.
The Giants played this game in Candlestick. Not Florida. Remember when Brandon Crawford looked like he was about to cry? Chin up, friend. Not only were the Giants staying, but they would have BARRY BONDS.
That was the home opener, and the fans appreciated having Bonds. They appreciated having a baseball team at all, really.
One of the best baseball moments I’ve ever witness in person, if not the best. It was against the Dodgers. It went into the water. It gave the Giants a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game they were losing. The Dodgers had to watch a 13-hour presentation and think about how lame they were.
And it was the 500th homer of his career. Bonds was 35.
He’d hit 262 home runs after that, which still makes me laugh. That’s two more than Derek Jeter hit in his career.
Anyway, happy Barry Bonds day, and enjoy the videos. I like the part where the baseballs go over the fence.
(I didn’t even use the one from Anaheim that impressed Tim Salmon so. What a career.)
Edit: How did I miss this one? It was one of my favorites, probably a top-five.
I haven’t written nearly enough about the 1997 Giants, which is the team that made me the kind of baseball fan that spends his life writing about it. That will change.
Can’t believe I forgot that one. Words from the past:
It was a glorious moment. If I recall correctly, Neil Armstrong called to congratulate Bonds, saying, "Nothing I have ever done or will do can top what you just did."
I stand by that recollection.