Feb 19, 2002
|Barry Bonds begins the most highly-scrutinized spring training of his career.|
That news from the career homer king nearly floored the man who broke the single-season mark last year.
Aaron, who finished his career in 1976 with 755 homers, even told Bonds that he'd held the title long enough.
"Records are meant to be broken, and if you have a chance to do it, then do it," Bonds said Aaron told him. "To hear that, shocked me. I didn't know what to say. I actually started to shake. I had to ask him if he was serious - and he said he was."
Bonds, who arrived Tuesday at San Francisco' spring training camp, spent two days this offseason making a television commercial with Aaron - a spot that jokingly refers to Bonds' pursuit of Aaron's record.
"I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Hank," Bonds said. "This is really the first time I've ever spent time with him."
Bonds and Aaron talked baseball and home runs.
Bonds hit 73 homers last season, topping Mark McGwire's 70 home-run campaign of 1998.
"He told me to get all I could get out of the game of baseball," Bonds said. He called Aaron "one of my idols."
Bonds needs 189 home runs to overtake Aaron, but isn't sure he'll ever get there.
"First, I have to get through this year," he said. "And then, there's the next year and the next."
Bonds is coming off an incredible season in which he broke the homer record, and also set marks with an .863 slugging percentage and 177 walks. His on-base percentage of .515 set a modern National League record and was the eighth highest in major league history.
"I'm nervous about this season," Bonds said. "I think the press and fans will be disappointed if I can't do it again. I did put up some insane numbers."