- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

BALTIMORE — A sellout crowd came to Camden Yards yesterday afternoon to watch the Barry Bonds road show, but the hometown performer reminded everyone that he is a special act as well.

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro stole the spotlight from Bonds, despite the Orioles’ 11-inning 9-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The second game did not end in time for this edition.

Palmeiro outhomered Bonds 2-1 with his eighth and ninth blasts of the season and outdistanced the slugger as well, driving one of his home runs 434 feet over the center-field wall. Palmeiro also passed Mickey Mantle on the all-time list with his 537th homer and second of the game in the eighth inning, a solo shot that tied the game 5-5.

“I was a fan of Mickey’s growing up,” Palmeiro said. “All my dad talked about was Mickey, how great he was and how he was probably the best player that ever played. To me, he was the guy.”

The game briefly overshadowed the two superstars, when, with the score tied at 5-5 in the ninth inning, Baltimore had the bases loaded and nobody out. Melvin Mora hit a fly ball to right that was too shallow to drive in a run. With the infield in, Miguel Tejada hit a ball back to pitcher Matt Herges, who went home to get Larry Bigbie. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s relay to first doubled up Tejada.

Two innings later, the Giants scored four runs off closer Jorge Julio, with Bonds, who went 3-for-6, contributing an RBI single. The Orioles’ 14th loss in their last 20 games dropped their record to 26-30.

Palmeiro’s two home runs — the first a two-run shot in the third inning — put him 138 behind Bonds, whose 675th career homer was a 360-foot opposite-field shot off Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez in the top of the inning that landed a few rows into the left field seats. Lopez is the 400th pitcher to surrender a home run to Bonds.

Bonds had hit a similar shot in batting practice by just barely flicking his wrist, and seemed shocked that it traveled that far.

“He couldn’t believe it was a home run,” said Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer, who was talking to Bonds between his batting practice turns.

Still, the crowd of 48,869 — the second sellout of the season and sixth-largest crowd in Camden Yards history — went home saying they saw a Barry Bonds home run, his 17th of the season. They can say they didn’t see an Orioles pitcher walk Bonds, who came in with a major league-leading 82 free passes. And they actually saw reliever John Parrish strike Bonds out in the seventh inning on a diet of sliders.

But they never saw the 39-year-old Bonds come close to becoming the first player in a regular-season game to hit the B&O; Warehouse beyond the right-field wall — about the same distance from home plate as McCovey Cove at SBC Park in San Francisco, where Bonds regularly deposits balls.

He nearly hit it in batting practice, though, when he put on a show by slamming eight home runs, including two that landed on Eutaw Street, scattering fans. One landed just a few feet from the warehouse, which, save for Ken Griffey’s blast in the 1993 All-Star Game home run contest, remains untouched.

When both Palmeiro and Bonds homered in the third inning, it marked the third time two players with 500 or more home runs have homered in the same game and the second time it was done in the same inning. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron homered in the same game on May 8, 1971, and Mays and Ernie Banks homered in the eighth inning on June 17, 1970.

But as much as Bonds was the featured performer yesterday, he had to share the stage with Palmeiro, who remains the least-noticed great slugger of all time. Only 10 players have hit more homers than Palmeiro. With 2,832 hits, at age 39, he has a chance to become the fourth player with more than 500 home runs and more than 3,000 hits. He and Bonds are the only two active players with more than 450 home runs, 500 doubles and 2,500 hits.

“It’s nice and all, but I really don’t think about it,” Palmeiro said of his place on the various lists. “There are a lot of other things to worry about.”

There is one home run list where Palmeiro now sits alone as the all-time leader. He has 38 in interleague play, one more than Carlos Delgado and Jim Thome.

Notes — Fox’s television coverage was delayed by nearly 10 minutes by the NFL Europe World Bowl running long. The network attempted to stay with the football game, won by the Berlin Thunder, until its conclusion. But its contract with Major League Baseball forced it to begin regional coverage by the first pitch of its scheduled games. The final two minutes of the World Bowl were moved to FX.

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