Cubs fans probably want to forget about pitcher Joe Borowski, but he’s forever linked to the legend of Barry Bonds because he was the pitcher of record on this very date in 2001 to surrender his 50th home run. This made Bonds the fastest to reach that number in a single season, gave him a new career high (he hit 49 in 2000), and made him the oldest player to hit 50 home runs in a season.
Bonds remarked at the time, “It’s something my grandfather said I should have done years ago. I finally accomplished it, and he can leave me alone for a while.”
The only video I could find was sandwiched in between all the other home runs from his 73-home run 2001 season (it comes in at the 2:42 mark):
Of course, because YouTube is weird and MLB is even weirder about how it posts clips and maintains its site, I could find a bunch of other home runs from 2001, but not this record-setting moment (I suspect it’s because it was a day game that didn’t have any sort of national broadcast attached to it, which, lol early aughts and their less than 100% coverage)
I mean, look. Here’s home run #45:
It’s an impressive shot, but not nearly as noteworthy as the blast off Borowski. And then there was the time he became only the fifth player in MLB history to hit 60 home runs in a season:
Okay, that’s noteworthy, much like #50 was, but alas, MLB’s repository is... quirky.
Aha! In addition to numbers 45 and 60, here are numbers 51 and 52, which happened on August 16, 2001 and made Barry Bonds the single-season home run leader in Giants history:
Now there is some history, and this was the week seventeen years ago when Bonds really accelerated from great year into historic season. 2001 was the last year Bonds homered on August 11th (he did it two other times before) and in this big year it was one of 12 he hit for the month. He hit 28 in 53 games through August and September combined and, like I said, it was in those last two months where he really proved it to himself and everyone else that he could make history.
Who could forget his 3-homer game in Colorado?
I remember this one distinctly because it came on Opening Day of the NFL season (or whatever the hell they call their Opening Day) and I stayed with this game instead of flipping over to watch the 49ers and on a commercial break, when I did flip over, the football game cut in with news of Bonds’ day.
Of course, people want to diminish everything Bonds because he used performance-enhancing drugs, but they tend to forget that he also stole 500 bases...
... making him the sole member of the 500 home runs / 500 stolen bases club (he’s also the sole member of the 400 / 400 club), and he’s one of only four players with 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season:
We probably fully appreciate what we saw by now (if we were lucky enough to see it), but I won’t go so far as to say we’ll never see anything like Bonds again. The world is always changing and humanity is always pushing forward. MLB has juiced the balls to increase the number of home runs and next year every stadium will probably have a humidor in them which could have the net effect of further bolstering those home run totals, so it’s possible we have a player in the next 30 years who dethrones Bonds.
Or Mike Trout could do it in the next 10.
Everybody forgets about the stolen base in their rush to crucify Bonds and everybody conveniently ignores everything he did prior to 2000, as though his career simply began in 2001. This tracks in the minds of millions of aggrieved Cardinals fans and certainly for the people who just don’t want to put him in the Hall of Fame, but the records are there. The moments happened.
We’re very good at ignoring history and interpreting it to suit our needs, even when it comes to something as frivolous as the game of baseball, but Barry Bonds is the best to ever play the game and although it matters why and how he was, those answers just don’t change reality.