MLB executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon and Selig special assistant Frank Robinson (the former Nationals manager) were left to represent the commissioner in congratulating Bonds inside the Giants clubhouse once the slugger had departed the game.
Selig, who has gone out of his way to couch his words about Bonds throughout the pursuit, issued a statement that reiterated his position on the matter.
I congratulate Barry Bonds for establishing a new career home run record, Selig said. Barrys achievement is noteworthy and remarkable. … While the issues which have swirled around this record will continue to work themselves toward resolution, today is a day for congratulations on a truly remarkable achievement.
With one out and no one on, Bonds worked the count full. He nearly appeared to ground out on a bouncer to first baseman Dmitri Young, but that ball was ruled just foul.
Bacsik’s next pitch — an 86 mph fastball right down the heart of the strike zone at 11:51 p.m. Eastern time — didn’t fool Bonds one bit. He belted it like few other pitches he has seen over the last two months, sending it into history.
A mad scramble ensued in the right-center field bleachers, as dozens of fans piled onto each other trying to snag a ball that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end, a 22-year-old native of Queens, N.Y., named Matt Murphy wound up with the famed memento. Murphy, who was merely passing through San Francisco on his way to Australia with a friend, was immediately whisked away by police officers.
Meanwhile, Bacsik stood on the mound, hands on his hips, realizing he had just etched his own place in baseball lore. The 29-year-old left-hander, who has spent his career bouncing from organization to organization, wouldn’t be recognized even by most diehard fans if he happened by them on the street.
Bacsik, though, might have been an appropriate participant in last night’s history-making event. He is an astute student of baseball, knowing the history of the game well, and he has pitching in his genes.
Bacsik’s father, also named Mike, spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues in the late 1970s and even pitched against Aaron on Aug. 23, 1976, while the latter was playing out the final games of his career. Thus, the Bacsiks are the only father and son in major league history to have pitched to someone with 755 career homers.
Its pretty special to be part of history like that, said the younger Bacsik, who congratulated Bonds in person in the San Francisco clubhouse and received an autographed bat from him. You have to be a really special player to be remembered in this game, or be part of a special moment. Im part of a special moment now that will obviously never be forgotten.
Heading into last night’s game, the younger Bacsik didn’t appear to be fazed at all by the prospect of stepping into the caldron with an entire nation watching. In fact, he almost appeared to be hoping to give up the historic homer, cracking jokes about how he could “make millions” signing autographs with Al Downing, the pitcher who served up Aaron’s 715th.
Its OK, he said. Al Downing gave up the home run to Hank Aaron. He won 20 games and was an All-Star. So now, my next goal is to win 20 games and be an All-Star like Al Downing.
Bacsik certainly wasn’t afraid to go after Bonds. If anything, he found too much of the plate in his first two encounters of the game. In the second, Bonds drilled a full-count pitch to right-center for an easy double. In the third, he lined a sharp single to center, confirming the slugger had Bacsik’s number.