Before today goes Full Bonds, let’s talk about the Best Supporting Actors of the Bonds Years: the broadcasters. Think whatever you want about the man who did the damage or the era he damaged or even the team around him, the team’s Hype Men did the very best possible job to make each swing of his bat feel important, but in the fun, exciting way baseball is supposed to be and not in the hushed, reverent tones most baseball broadcasts pitch the game to be.
Listen to the calls on this longest home runs of Bonds’ career highlight... in particular, listen to how Bonds’ power simply breaks poor Joe Angel at the 4:06 mark.
Jon Miller is already a legend, but people outside the Bay Area will someday come to understand just what we have in Duane Kuiper. The Giants’ Instagram feed posted this video (after I published about Bonds’ record-setting 756th home run against Mike Bacsik) that recorded Kuiper’s call of “BONDS STANDS ALONE.” Take a look:
As a former (terrible, no good, very bad) play-by-play broadcaster, I don’t have any idea how Kuiper projected his voice the way he did from a forward leaning position. And the way he just so casually moves his mouth and goes about his business as he intones “756. BONDS STANDS ALONE. HE IS ON TOP.” making sure to mark the score and deal with the logistics of the broadcast, but then smoothly giving Krukow a fist bump... it’s all incredibly professional, but I would never in a million years imagine that that’s how Kuiper called any of these Bonds home runs. He makes it all look so effortless, just like Bonds did.
Although this day isn’t about Kuiper specifically, it will involve him generally, as his calls will no doubt provide some of the day’s “score” or soundtrack. Kuiper said he’d never apologize for calling Bonds’ home runs and I don’t think he should. Back in 2007, before Bonds broke the record, the great Jayson Stark interviewed Kuiper and got this great quote from him:
“You know what?” Kuiper said. “I keep saying that, at the end of Barry’s career, I want a picture of just him and me. And whatever his total is, let’s say it’s 765, that will be my Christmas card.
”It’s going to say: ‘Combined, we’ve hit 766 together.’”
For plenty of Giants fans, Bonds’ home runs and Kuiper’s calls are inextricably linked. It’d be enough if we just had the home runs, but our luck as Giants fans has been to get more than enough most of the time.
I really hope this Christmas card happened.