The chair in front of Barry Bonds’s lockers at Pacific Bell Park is big and black, a $3,000 Sharper Image leather recliner so large that it appears to block off one side of the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse. All other members of the team–no matter how well established–sit in dinky folding metal chairs, the kind found leaning against the back wall of high school auditoriums. Sometimes, when San Francisco scribes feel like taking a poke at Bonds’s legendary ego, they will write about his four lockers and his Moby Dick of a recliner.
“You know, it’s just a massage chair,” says Bonds, reclining three hours before a recent Giants home game, an ice pack on his neck as he glances at the movie showing on the 32-inch TV on the floor by his footrest. “Big deal. Junior had one in Seattle and nobody said anything. I have one and it’s in the papers. But you know what? My teammates don’t care. My manager doesn’t care. You know why? Because I have bulging discs in my back. I’d be all locked up if I sat in those metal chairs all day. I might as well make sure my back is O.K. so I can perform at my best. Three years ago, I didn’t need a special chair. But you get older. Things change.” He pauses, adjusting the ice pack. “It stinks, but they do.” — Jeff Pearlman, via Sports Illustrated (2000)
It’s easy to forget that Barry Lamar Bonds was going into his age-36 season during his 2000 campaign with the San Francisco Giants. Now in his 15th year of service in Major League Baseball, Bonds was coming off an injury-plagued year that saw him still put up 34 home runs in just 102 games. The Giants were favored by sharps on lines.com to make the playoffs in 2000, and after a historic run in Candlestick Park, the Giants were taking their talents to the grounds that would eventually be named AT&T Park.
For Bonds, his return to full strength also meant following up the historic runs of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, whose home run barrages and increases in celebrity profile meant that Bonds’ star didn’t shine as bright. We now know that by reading Game of Shadows (this is still worthy of your attention, it’s so so good) that Bonds was willing to show the world what he could do with the type of “focus” that McGwire and Sosa might have received.
The best hitter in the world had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to even the playing field a bit.
The net result? Bonds would rewrite the record books and take an assault on everything that is considered holy in the world of baseball.
AT&T Park would be the stage for many of these assaults, as one record that will likely stand for a long time are the 160 home runs he hit at the stadium. Again, he hit all 160 of them from the ages of 35 to 42.
The first? Of course, it would be against the Los Angeles Dodgers. What’s eerie is the voice that is Vin Scully, waxing his usual poetic over the performance of Bobby’s son and Willie’s nephew. I urge you to take the 58 seconds to listen to Scully’s commentary while Bonds hits his home run trot.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 11, 2018
Yeah Vin, I think it might be possible.
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