Oct 6, 2001
AP Photos, AP Graphic
By ROB GLOSTER
AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO - Barry Bonds' record-breaking homer had just plunked into a fan's mitt in the right-center field stands when vendors swept through the aisles at Pacific Bell Park hawking souvenir baseballs embossed with "71" in gold.
Less than an hour later, the $18 balls already were out of date.
Bonds broke the record of 70 homers set three seasons ago by Mark McGwire, slamming a first-inning fastball from Chan Ho Park 442 feet. Two innings later, he sent another Park pitch over the center-field fence for his 72nd homer.
And his godfather, Willie Mays, was ready for more.
"I want him to get to 75. I want him to put it where no one can get there. That's what I want him to do," Mays said in a ceremony after Friday's game, which ended after midnight with Bonds and the Giants losing 11-10 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After the first homer, Bonds was mobbed by teammates at the plate and lifted 11-year-old son Nikolai into the air. He phoned his father, three-time All-Star Bobby Bonds, and went into the stands to hug his wife, daughter and mother.
Unlike in 1998, when Sammy Sosa ran in from right field to hug McGwire after his record-breaking homer, most of the Dodgers all but ignored Bonds. Park did not even turn around to watch the historic homer.
"Good for him, but it doesn't mean it's bad for me," said Park, who claimed he was not at all upset by his spot in the record book. "I didn't try to give up home runs, I just tried to throw good pitches."
Five-story banners were unfurled from the light standards behind center field, proclaiming "Bonds" and "71," as fireworks crackled overhead and fan Jerry Rose cradled the historic ball he had just caught.
But the Giants didn't have a banner ready for No. 72, which came 53 minutes later. It was his 566th career homer - Bonds started the season 17th on the career list, and now is sixth.
And no fan got this souvenir. A few fought for the ball, but it bounced back onto the field and was thrown to Bonds inside the Giants dugout. Bonds said later he had no idea what he'd do with the ball except "just stare at it for a while."
Dodgers first baseman Paul Lo Duca said he had trouble staying at his defensive spot.
"After the second homer, I saw it bounce back on the field, and I wanted to run and grab it and run around with it," Lo Duca said. "The guy is unbelievable. After the second home run, I just stared at him."
Bonds had two more games to add to his total. But that's all he had left this season, since the Giants' loss Friday night eliminated them from playoff contention.
The homer record is just the most gaudy element of what has been a remarkable year by Bonds, who could be heading toward his record fourth MVP award.
After Friday's game, Bonds was hitting .325 with 136 RBIs. His 177 walks this season are a major league record, shattering the mark set by Babe Ruth in 1923.
Bonds' slugging percentage after Friday's game was .860, which would be by far the best in baseball history. Ruth's record of .847 was set in 1920. And Bonds' on-base percentage of .514 would be the best in the majors since 1957.
"You couldn't even dream about putting together a season like this," Bonds said. "I just hope 30 or 40 homers will be enough for everyone (in the future)."
Bonds, 37, who broke down in tears during the post-game ceremony, said the historic homers had come at a price - a new Mercedes for teammate Shawon Dunston, who bet him earlier this year that he would break McGwire's record.
They'll also raise the price Bonds should command this winter. Bonds is eligible for free agency after the season, his ninth with the Giants. As team owner Peter Magowan spoke on the field after the game, fans chanted "Sign him, sign him."
In a neat twist, Bonds' historic 71st homer came at the same moment McGwire was approaching the plate at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where the Cardinals played Houston. Until Big Mac came along, Roger Maris' record of 61 had stood for 37 years. Before Maris came along, Ruth's record stood for 34 years.
McGwire went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Friday night and said the next day he was considering retirement. But he also praised Bonds' performance.
"What he's done, it's absolutely phenomenal," McGwire said. "It's in the stratosphere. It's almost like he's playing T-ball."
Mays, whose post-game comments had Bonds rolling in laughter, said it was hard to believe the little kid he once chased out of his locker had made history.
"I am one he made a liar out of, because I didn't think he'd do it," Mays said.
Bonds was playing on only about four hours of sleep. After hitting No. 70 in Houston on Thursday night, he arrived in San Francisco at about 3 a.m. Friday and attended the burial of a close friend, Franklin Bradley.
The homers pushed Park, who has allowed Bonds seven homers in 39 career at-bats, into a dubious corner of the record book alongside pitchers such as Tom Zachary, Tracy Stallard and Steve Trachsel.
Zachary allowed Ruth's 60th home run in 1927, Stallard gave up Maris' 61st in 1961, and Trachsel was the pitcher when McGwire hit his 62nd in 1998.
The Giants praised Park and Dodgers manager Jim Tracy for challenging Bonds. During a three-game series this week in Houston, the Astros mostly pitched around the slugger - and lost all three games.
"Give the Dodgers credit for playing the game the way it should be played. Give Jim Tracy and Chan Ho Park credit," Giants manager Dusty Baker said. "They pitched to him."
Tracy said the Dodgers had no good choice.
"When you walk Barry, you take your chances," Tracy said. "And when you pitch to Barry, you take your chances."