- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The fans crowded onto kayaks, dinghies, surfboards, even inflatable mattresses, bobbing away on a sun-baked afternoon yesterday in the water beyond right field, waiting to receive Barry Bonds' million-dollar gift that never fell from the sky.

The way most figured it, long though the odds were that Bonds would hit a ball out of Pacific Bell Park and into McCovey Cove, it was more fun than playing the lottery.

So hundreds paddled into the chilly green murk that is McCovey Cove, a sliver of water just outside Pac Bell Park, and waited. And spilled beer on themselves. And lounged in a flotilla packed so tight fans might have walked across the water.

"Bar-ry, Bar-ry, Bar-ry," they chanted each time Bonds stepped into the batter's box.

"Boooooo," they bellowed as he walked two times without seeing a strike, got hit by a pitch in the elbow and grounded out in a game the Giants lost to San Diego 5-4.

"U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A," they occasionally screamed, for no apparent reason other than the glee of forgetting everything else on a Sunday afternoon.

Not that it was all fun and games on the water. Around the fourth inning, a police harbor patrol boat had to cruise into the scrum when a group of surfers started pelting a kayaker with a beachball. Apparently, the kayaker had whacked a surfer with his paddle as he jockeyed for position.

"There is no Utopia," frowned Jim Hooley, surveying the scene from the boardwalk between the stadium and the cove.

Three officers sent one of the surfers to the flotilla's fringe and then slipped away themselves.

"It restores my faith in humanity," Hooley smiled. "Order has been restored on McCovey Cove."

Fans resumed soaking each other with squirt guns or cannonballing into the water. One man spent the game treading water in a snorkel and mask.

Meanwhile, on the boardwalk, a half-dozen fans stood sentry with fishing nets extended 20 feet high to snag the ball that never came.

One was John Fahy, a construction supervisor from Newman in California's Central Valley. A fisherman friend loaned him the net and a painter friend gave him the extension pole.

He figured the ball would net around $1 million, if it happened to plop into his basket.

In the fifth inning, Bonds came up with runners on the corners. The crowd stiffened. And Bonds got off his only swing of the day a weak grounder to the shortstop.

"Down comes the net," Fahy said with a sigh. "But what a scene."

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