The Washington Nationals join the party tonight, when they open a four-game series in San Francisco that sets the stage for a Nats pitcher to give up the record-breaking homer.
Rookie left-hander John Lannan, whom Bonds never has faced, goes tonight. Tomorrow brings another left-hander, Mike Bacsik, who has held Bonds hitless in two official at-bats and once hit him with a pitch. Tim Redding is scheduled to pitch Wednesday, and Bonds is 1-for-5 against him with a double and two walks. Last into the spotlight is rookie Joel Hanrahan, who has never faced Bonds.
It would be nice if, while the world is watching, the Nationals keep Bonds in the ballpark, showing everyone the heart — and, yes, talent — of this team that has proved a lot of people wrong, yours truly included.
But even if one of these pitchers gives it up, he won’t live in infamy. He will not be remembered as long as other pitchers who surrendered record-breaking home runs.
Here it is, 33 years later, and Downing, a good major league pitcher, is forever linked to the Aaron home run.
And go back to 1961: Tracy Stallard’s claim to fame is that he threw the pitch that Maris hit for No. 61, breaking Ruth’s single-season mark. Those who go that far back may recall Jack Fisher gave up No. 60.
Years from now, no one but Clay Hensley and his family and friends will remember that the Padres pitcher gave up No. 755 to Bonds. Few will remember if Lannan, Bacsik, Redding or Hanrahan serves up the record-breaker to Bonds because he so cheapened the record.
Who gave up No. 62 to McGwire? Few remember it was Steve Trachsel, who said he rarely hears about it anymore.
“I went five or six years without talking about it,” Trachsel told SI.com. “It’s not something that even comes up much anymore. I think, probably, the amount of time between Maris and Mark made it a bigger deal.”
What they will remember about Bonds and 755 is the tension and controversy. The record itself will be overshadowed by the indictment of Bonds on perjury and income tax evasion charges, which likely will come before the end of the year. Then there will be the Mitchell steroid probe and whatever steps commissioner Cadillac Bud Selig takes in light of those developments.
Who will give up No. 756? Who will care?
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