Not yet for Barry Bonds
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
SAN FRANCISCO ” Barry Bonds had his Hall of Fame godfather in the house, not to mention his wife and all three of his children watching nervously and hoping for something special.
And don’t forget the 43,000 others who dearly wanted to witness history.
Bonds had everything lined up perfectly Monday night to hit his 756th home run and break Hank Aaron’s record.
Sit tight, San Francisco. It’s going to be at least another day.
Back home two days after matching the Hammer’s mark, Bonds was held in check by a 22-year-old rookie making just his third major league appearance.
The slugger went 0-for-3 with a walk and came out of the game against Washington after seven innings. The Giants went on to beat the Nationals 3-2 in 11 innings.
Willie Mays was there after travel problems kept him from making it to San Diego during the weekend to see No. 755. Bonds’ oldest daughter, Shikari, returned from a trip to Sweden and was in the stands, along with his 8-year-old daughter, Aisha, who had “Pitch 2 Dad!” written in black marker on her right cheek.
But Bonds never came close to having the crown for home run king all to himself. He walked down the dugout steps and disappeared with his batboy son, 17-year-old Nikolai, by his side after striking out against John Lannan in his final try.
Everybody figures it’s just a matter of time now.
“We’re going to see something that’s never been done,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intense. It’s anticipation. Everybody’s watching every pitch. You see the flashes going off. Only Barry knows what he’s going through. I can only imagine.”
Bonds gets to try again Tuesday night against Mike Bacsik. Bonds is 0-for-2 with a walk against the left-hander, who certainly will be looking to follow the success of fellow lefty Lannan ” he avoided becoming the 446th different pitcher to surrender one of Bonds’ home runs.
The kid looked nervous for sure, but showed little fear. Lannan didn’t back down, even when the crowd booed him for stepping off the mound to adjust his sleeve before Bonds’ initial at-bat or when he fell behind in the count in his final two confrontations.
Lannan went to 2-0 against Bonds in both the fifth and seventh innings, but rebounded to get Bonds out.
With one on and none out in the fifth after Randy Winn’s leadoff single, Bonds drew two balls before grounding into a rare 6-5-3 double play against a shifted infield. Then in the seventh, Bonds struck out swinging.
“What’s this, his third start?” said Winn, who hit the game-winning single. “He looked pretty composed.”
Bonds fouled out to third in the first on a nice running play by Ryan Zimmerman, then walked on five pitches in the third on a cool summer evening in the Bay Area. The first-pitch temperature was 60 degrees in the waterfront ballpark.
Camera flashes lit up the stadium from the moment Bonds emerged and headed for the on-deck circle in the first inning. Bonds received a loud standing ovation during pregame introductions.
Bonds hit No. 755 on Saturday night at San Diego and received a warm reception afterward along with some boos.
People packed the outside “knothole” viewing area below the right-field arcade, a free spot for fans to watch that requires them to switch out every three innings.
Just beyond them in McCovey Cove, kayaks waited in hopes of a souvenir splash hit from Bonds.
Bonds stepped in with runners on the corners and one out in the first, and fans jumped to their feet. Once, his wife, Liz, could be seen holding her hands together anxiously.
The 76-year-old Mays watched from inside the clubhouse ” with plans to come outside if Bonds homered. They spoke before the game in the office of longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy with the door closed.
Bud Selig was not in attendance. The commissioner, who watched No. 755 in San Diego with his hands in his pockets and no emotion on his face, returned home to Milwaukee on Sunday.
He planned to miss the Giants’ first two games of the four-game set with Washington, sending Major League Baseball executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in his place.
Aaron also was not at the park. He said long ago that he did not plan to follow the chase in person.
Bochy said before the game he expected Bonds to have some jitters ” “he’s going to be not only amped up but probably a little nervous” ” but probably not anything close to how Lannan must have felt facing Bonds on the cusp of history.
“He went after him,” Bochy said. “There’s probably a lot of pressure on the pitcher, too. All eyes are on him. I give him credit.”
Banners that will pay tribute to his achievement are waiting to be unfurled from the light posts on each side of the main scoreboard. The home run tracker in right-center field that began when Bonds was about 150 home runs away from Aaron’s record now shows the tie between the two great sluggers.
Just before gametime, Bonds watched a replay of his 755th homer with the fans on their feet to see it and cheer him for the first time since he came home.
A message was shown on the video screen from the son of boxer Muhammad Ali, who sat by his side.
“We want to congratulate you on hitting 755 home runs, it’s been a great milestone,” Asaad Ali said. “We’ve both been great fans of yours throughout your career. We just want to wish you good luck on your road to history. Don’t stop.”
Bonds raised a baseball in his left hand and tipped it in the direction of the main center-field scoreboard after hearing it. Previously, Bonds heard from Michael Jordan, Joe Montana and Wayne Gretzky.
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