- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Barry Bonds has raced past so many baseball milestones in the past two seasons that it's difficult for anyone even Bonds himself to step back and truly appreciate his achievements.
There are certain numbers that everyone can understand, however. The first was 500. The second was 73.
The third, coming soon to Pacific Bell Park, is 600.
As the San Francisco Giants open a six-game homestand tonight against the Chicago Cubs, Bonds is on the verge of becoming baseball's fourth player with 600 career homers.
Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays Bonds' godfather and hero are the only other members of a fraternity that could be joined this week by Bonds, who hit his 598th Sunday in Pittsburgh.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a San Franciscan who isn't certain Bonds will accomplish his latest remarkable feat in front of his home fans. With a power surge of historic proportions in his late 30s, the slugger seems to do something incredible with every swing of his black Canadian maple bats these days.
"I don't have time to reflect on those things at this point," Bonds said Sunday in Pittsburgh. "I don't even know how I got here, anyway. You go out and play every day. If you look at some of the greatest players, you're going to put up numbers if you have the ability, and if you play long enough you're going to do some things, put up big numbers.
"I've been lucky. I've been able to stay healthy throughout my career, for the most part, and come from a family with good genes."
Bonds' achievement comes during an era of smaller ballparks, stronger players and ever-increasing offensive numbers. Still, his accomplishment is stunning.
In the months since he hit his 500th homer into the waters of McCovey Cove on April 17, 2001, Bonds has passed 13 baseball greats on the career list a jaw-dropping feat that seems almost matter-of-fact for Bonds.
He was the 17th member of the 500 club, but he has since roared past everyone from Mel Ott to Frank Robinson, who was bumped to fifth on the career list on June 5 when Bonds hit a 482-foot grand slam at San Diego for his 587th homer.
Bonds says he uses the supplement creatine, but has repeatedly denied taking steroids. Though he has added plenty of bulky muscle to his upper body over the past several seasons, he focuses his extensive workouts on flexibility designed to add years to his career.
He finished last season, his 16th, with 73 homers to break Mark McGwire's record, and he is second in the NL with 31 homers this season despite getting just 269 at-bats due to injuries, regular rest and 122 walks from frightened pitchers and managers.
Mays and Bobby Bonds are expected to be in attendance this week as Barry Bonds, still recovering from a strained hamstring, looks for the next two homers.
Mays, a frequent visitor to the park with his statue in front of it, sometimes stops by to chat with his godson before games.
"He always goes about his business the same way," Mays said earlier this season. "I'm not surprised he's having the success he is, because he's got great talent. But he works hard to use it, too."
Mays sits third on the list with 660 homers. Given Bonds' current pace, that mark would be within reach next summer.
"It would be very difficult for me to pass Willie," Bonds said. "He's been my idol my whole life. How do you pass your idol? But if I don't [pass Mays], the Giants might release me."
Bobby Bonds' recovery from surgery last month to remove a cancerous tumor from his kidney is progressing slowly but steadily. Bonds missed his son's 500th homer because of a commitment to his own charity golf tournament.
Barry Bonds spent days and nights by his father's bedside while he was in the hospital this summer. He didn't homer while his father was hospitalized, but the day his father was released, Bonds hit No.595 against Arizona's Randy Johnson.
When he was on the verge of hitting his 500th, Bonds went through an 0-for-21 slump. He felt nervous and star-struck, he admitted.
A year later, with such a large portion of baseball history already bearing his name, he's ready for 600.
"As time goes by and you get older, you learn to deal with those situations," he said. "You know it's a long season and you've got a long time. Those situations are for young kids, not me."

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