There’s a new home run champion and his name is Barry Bonds. No. 756 has come and gone. Fortunately, this sports writer turned on the television just in time to witness this historic moment in real time.
For some reason, I had a premonition that soon as I pressed power and saw that Bonds was at the plate, the ball was about to sail into the bleachers at AT&T Park.
The San Francisco Giants slugger crushed Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bascik’s pitch more than 435 feet into the right centerfield bleachers, where a lucky fan, Matt Murphy from New York, caught the ball. For his protection, San Fran’s finest quickly escorted him to a secure room.
After the gargantuan blast, the park erupted in cheers. There were fireworks, streamers, banners and even a pre-recorded congratulatory message from the man who is now No. 2 on the all-time homer un list — Henry Aaron.
For as surly as Bonds seems, he became very emotional once he stomped on home plate, embracing his son Nikolai and pointing to the heavens, where his father Bobby is presumed to be.
And of course, one of baseball’s greatest living players and Bonds’ godfather Willie Mays was by Bonds’ side afterward to congratulate him on his accomplishment.
Barry spoke to the crowd and thanked the hometown fans.
It was a good thing for Bonds that he broke the record in San Francisco. Because had he broken the record anywhere else, I can attest that the reaction would have been much different. I wish he had broken it somewhere else, just to see the reaction. But, Aug. 7, 2007, belongs to Bonds.
Despite being No. 1 on the home run list, several folks, including myself, have a difficult time recognizing Bonds as the true champion.
Did Bonds use performance-enhancing drugs to break one of America’s most revered records? He has not been proven guilty, but plenty of circumstantial evidence is present.
So, for now Bonds has his moment in the sun. But it won’t be long until we crown Alex Rodriguez as the new home run king.
He already has 500 at the age of 32. If he continues to hit his career average of 42 homers a year, then in 2013, we will cheer on A-Rod as he goes for the record.