SAN DIEGO (AP) — Barry Bonds swung, took a half-dozen steps and clapped his hands. With no trace of a smile but a strong shot for all the doubters, he caught Hank Aaron and tied the career home run record last night.
No. 755 was an opposite-field drive to left-center, moving Bonds within one swing of having baseball’s pinnacle of power all to himself.
Commissioner Bud Selig stood up and put his hands in his pockets while Bonds‘ family hugged and high-fived. When Bonds crossed the plate, he lifted his batboy son, Nikolai, and carried him several steps in an embrace.
The Petco Park crowd stood and cheered, with some boos mixed in, when the San Francisco slugger homered off Clay Hensley in the second inning. Several fans held up asterisk signs.
Bonds was booed as he headed to left field at the end of the inning. The 43-year-old star has been shadowed by suspicions of steroid use for several years, which some fans feel has tainted his chase for the home run record.
It had been eight days since Bonds hit his 754th home run, and he came out for early batting practice, hoping to break his slump. He did it quickly, homering to lead off the second.
Bonds walked his next two times up.
Bonds hit the tying homer, in fact, off a former Giants draft pick who was suspended in 2005 for violating baseball’s minor league steroids policy.
Earlier in the day, Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run. Like Bonds, he took advantage of his first opportunity of the game, connecting at Yankee Stadium.
Bonds‘ milestone shot came at 10:29 p.m. and traveled an estimated 382 feet. The ball clunked off an advertising sign on the facade and fell into the navy blue bleachers below — right below the main scoreboard featuring a giant photo of the smiling slugger.
A fan sitting in that area threw back a ball onto the field, but that was not the historic ball. The man who ended up with the prized souvenir was whisked to a secure area so the specially marked ball could be authenticated.
After Bonds crossed the plate, teammate Ryan Klesko hugged him. Bonds slowly walked through a greeting line of other Giants. Moments later, he walked over to the field-level seats and kissed 8-year-old daughter Aisha and wife, Liz, through the screen.
Bonds then lifted his cap before going to the far end of the dugout and hugging Sue Burns, the wife of late Giants ownership partner Harmon Burns.
The godson of Willie Mays and the son of an All-Star outfielder, Bonds seemed destined for greatness from the start. Funny thing, his speed drew a lot more attention than his strength when he broke into the majors as a lanky leadoff hitter.