Sept 6, 2001
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Barry Bonds became the fifth player in baseball history to hit 60 home runs in a season, connecting in the second inning of San Francisco's game against Arizona on Thursday.
Bonds got the milestone homer off Albie Lopez on a 2-2 count, and the sellout crowd at Pacific Bell Park jumped up as it sailed over the right-field wall. Jeff Kent, waiting on deck, shook hands with a smiling Bonds as he crossed home plate.
As the crowd chanted "Barry! Barry!" Bonds made a curtain call and tipped his cap.
Bonds had never hit more than 49 homers in a season before this season. He joined Babe Ruth (60 in 1927), Roger Maris (61 in 1961), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998, 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 63 in 1999).
Bonds hit his 60th homer in the Giants' 141st game, reaching the mark faster than the other four sluggers. McGwire, the previous fastest to 60, needed 142 games in 1998, the year he set the record with 70 home runs in a season.
Bonds, at 37 years and 44 days, is the oldest player to reach No. 60. He also did it in the fewest at-bats: Thursday's homer came on his 411th at-bat this season. McGwire was five days shy of his 36th birthday in 1998, and he needed 439 at-bats.
Bonds has 554 career homers, nine behind Reggie Jackson for seventh place on baseball's career list.
Bonds looks skyward after crossing home plate with his 60th homerun of the season.
Bonds hit No. 58 on Monday against Colorado and got his 59th on Tuesday against Arizona's Miguel Batista.
Ever since Ruth hit 60 to break his own record for the third time, the number has held almost mythical significance among baseball players and fans. Maris' duel with Mickey Mantle in 1961 ended with Maris' record-breaking 61 homers in a summer that captivated the nation.
All eyes were focused on the longball again in 1998, when McGwire and Sosa dueled through the entire summer when McGwire finished with 70.
Bonds needs 11 homers in the Giants' final 22 games to establish a new mark.
Unlike McGwire, who admitted to feeling the pressure of the race and being mindful of the history he was making, Bonds has tried to play down his season.
"I've hit 30 or 40 homers throughout my career," he said Tuesday night. "It's been pretty much consistent. This year, I've just hit a few more."