Editor’s Note: Tuesday’s National League contest between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals had not been completed at press time.
By Janie McCauley — AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Bonds hit No. 756 to the deepest part of the ballpark Tuesday night, and hammered home the point: Like him or not, legitimate or not, he is baseball’s new home run king.
Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s storied record in the fifth inning, hitting a 3-2 pitch from Washington’s Mike Bacsik 435 feet to right-center field. Three days earlier, Bonds tied the Hammer with a shot to left-center in San Diego.
“Thank you very much. I got to thank all of you, all the fans here in San Francisco. It’s been fantastic,” he said shortly after crossing home plate, his godfather, Willie Mays, at his side.
Conspicuous by their absence were the commissioner and Aaron himself.
Though he was on hand for the tying homer, deciding to put baseball history ahead of the steroid allegations that have plagued the Giants slugger, Bud Selig wasn’t there for the record-breaker.
As for Aaron, he said all along he had no interest in being there whenever and wherever his 33-year-old mark was broken. He was true to his word, but he did offer a taped message of congratulations that played on stadium's video board.
“It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination,” he said.
“Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.
“My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams,” he said.
Absent, too, were the fans who held up asterisk signs, sure that Bonds wasn’t the real deal and that his power came from steroids.
Bonds didn’t face such suspicions at AT&T Park, in front of a loyal, home crowd. Yet even with Bonds at the top of the chart, fans will surely keep debating which slugger they consider the true home run champion.