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The greatest hitter in modern baseball history and the most maligned, controversial face of MLB’s tremendously profitable PED era was born in Riverside, California 55 years ago today.
Barry Bonds was the golden child of a legendary sports family. His father, Bobby Bonds, is one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all-time and was a three-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in a baseball career that started with the San Francisco Giants in 1968 and ended with the Cubs in 1981.
Bonds aunt Rosie was a 1964 Olympic hurdler. His uncle Robert won two Gold Medals in the hurdles at the high school track and field state finals in 1960 and was an NFL Draft pick in 1965. He also considers HOFer Willie McCovey his uncle and a great mentor as well.
To top it off, his godfather is Willie Mays, also his direct competition for GOAT status.
— Barry L Bonds (@BarryBonds) May 6, 2019
Bonds played 22 MLB seasons; seven for the Pittsburgh Pirates and 15 for the San Francisco Giants. He holds numerous batting records, including the single-season home run record (73) and he’s, of course, MLB’s all-time career home run King with 762 dingers.
As one of the central figures and scapegoats in baseball’s steroids scandal, some people feel Bonds accomplishments are tainted and the writers who elect legends to the Hall of Fame aren’t trying to put him in Cooperstown yet.
Some say the sport of baseball takes itself too seriously. Others say they can’t take the sport or its Hall of Fame seriously until the greatest players of the PED era are voted in.
Happy 55th birthday to the Home Run king, Barry Bonds! ⚾️ ?? pic.twitter.com/8cIrGC64S0
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) July 24, 2019
The Hall of Fame writers seem to be from a different planet than the rest of the baseball world. To them, Bonds is still an enemy of the sport, despite being welcomed back into the game years ago as a coach and the support and reverence MLB’s all-time home run king has received, particularly from the younger generation.
The PED Era is still self-righteously frowned upon by some members of the baseball community and BBWAA as a black eye on the sport when in reality it was one of baseballs greatest moments. If you just examine the bottom line; revenue soared, the game experienced a revival of popularity and talent that eventually spread across the world. Hitting bombs became an everyday part of the game for a select few players who mastered the art of the home run.
You ask most young African-American baseball fans who their favorite player currently is and they don’t say Mookie Betts or Josh Bell or any of the rising MLB stars of color. The majority of them still say “Barry Bonds”, because his impact on the game is undeniable and unduplicated and when he was at the top of his game, he produced the greatest offensive seasons the world has ever seen.
We are still searching for the next Bonds. Not just the Black baseball community, but MLB itself.
Despite the Hall of Fame’s refusal to induct The GOAT, Bonds still has many supporters who are pushing his cause, particularly in light of the PED suspects that have been allowed entrance into Cooperstown these past few seasons (Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez, Craig Biggio, etc. ) along with the coaches who oversaw this era getting into the Hall of Fame (Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre).
Despite the politics, Bonds has long since returned to baseball. He did a brief stint as hitting coach for the Miami Marlins, and as the steroids era gets further in baseballs rearview mirror, his colossal accomplishments as a player will begin to define his existence again. One day he will be proudly and deservedly be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
It might, however, take the Veteran’s Committee to do the obvious.
There have been many disgraced heroes that have been caught using PEDS or have admitted to the transgression. Bonds never admitted to knowingly using any performance enhancers, he was never convicted of it, never failed a drug test. In fact, he’s been acquitted of any criminal charges he was facing concerning his testimony to federal officials concerning his possible PED use.
These past few years Bonds has been enjoying his family.
Very happy and proud father. Congratulations Aisha love you. Next stop college. ?❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/b0rymAt37A
— Barry L Bonds (@BarryBonds) June 3, 2017
And doing various charitable work.
A great day playing golf for a good cause at the UCSF Health Celebrity Golf Classic. pic.twitter.com/PXXGqMKonK
— Barry L Bonds (@BarryBonds) May 22, 2019
It’s only a matter of time before Bonds gets all of the accolades he deserves for helping to revive baseball in the ’90s and early 2000’s by accomplishing superhuman feats and making it a more popular sport.
Happy Birthday to an African-American hero and living American sports legend.