Aug. 7, 2007
San Francisco, Calif. -
By Bob Eger
Facing Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, former Sun Devil Barry Bonds drove a ball to the deepest part of
As he zeroed in on Major League Baseball's all-time home run record, Barry Bonds clearly was the most talked-about player in the sport. But he first burst upon the national scene as an Arizona State Sun Devil 24 years earlier.
A high-visibility recruit with an impressive baseball bloodline, Bonds arrived at ASU for the 1982 fall semester amid considerable fanfare. His father, Bobby Bonds, was a former major league superstar. Two distant cousins, Reggie Jackson and Alvin Davis, already had enjoyed standout careers as Sun Devils.
Bonds, a second-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants out of Serra High in San Mateo, CA, had negotiated throughout the summer of '82 with the Giants. When the Giants came up $5,000 shy of his signing bonus request of $75,000, he elected to honor his commitment to ASU.
During the 1982 fall exhibition season he first caught the eye of then ASU Coach Jim Brock and his staff with a series of spectacular defensive plays in left field. His batting average of .304 during fall ball was only seventh best on the team, but his all-around baseball skills were very much evident.
The young man who would go on to become the greatest home run hitter of all time attracted as much attention with his glove and his legs as with his bat during his freshman season of 1983. He batted a respectable .306 and his 11 home runs and 54 RBI led the team. He drew rave notices with his outstanding defense. He made just one error in 90 outfield chances and contributed several highlight-reel catches.
With high school times of 9.5 seconds for 100 yards and 4.3 seconds for 40 yards, Bonds quickly put that speed to use at ASU, stealing 16 bases in 22 attempts as a freshman.
The bigger the stage, the better Bonds played as a freshman. He was Most Valuable Player of the NCAA West II Regional in Tempe and earned a spot on the all-College World Series team after hitting ASU's only two home runs in Omaha.
As a sophomore in 1984 Bonds improved his batting average to .360 while posting similar power numbers (11 homers, 55 RBI) to his freshman season. He really took off on the basepaths, swiping 30 bases in 45 tries. He proved to be an outstanding clutch hitter, delivering six game-winning hits and hitting into just one double play.
Once again he excelled in Omaha, tying a CWS record with seven consecutive hits. That feat earned him ESPN's Amateur Athlete of the Week honors.
The raw power that has been the benchmark of his major league career began to surface in 1985, Bonds' final year as a Sun Devil. He batted .368 and more than doubled his home run total from the first two years combined with 23 homers. He scored 61 runs and led the team with 66 RBI. The Pittsburgh Pirates made him the sixth overall pick of the 1985 June draft.
The rest is history. Bonds went on to win seven National League Most Valuable Player awards and eight Gold Gloves during his storied Major League career with Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Throughout his career he has maintained an association with ASU, including imparting some of his batting wisdom on Sun Devil hitters.
Barry Bonds at ASU
Season G AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR SB-A Avg.
1983 64 206 60 63 54 12 2 11 16-22 .306
1984 70 258 62 93 55 20 2 11 30-45 .360
1985 62 247 61 91 66 10 3 23 11-16 .368