The legend of Barry Bonds, MLBs asterisk-scarred home run king began on this day in 1986, when the son of former MLB Black Knight Bobby Bonds and nephew of icon Willie Mays tossed on his Pirates gear and made his Major League debut at old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, carrying on the superstar precedent set by Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente before him.
On the 30th anniversary of his MLB debut, Barry Bonds reflected on his #Pirates career: https://t.co/JPB9kPsbK8
His debut was rather inauspicious as Bonds went 0-5 with three Ks, but it was just one forgettable and historical day in a 22-year career that saw him ascend to mythical status by smashing 762 home runs and breaking Hank Aarons all-time record of 755.
The man who many still consider the greatest hitter of all-time despite becoming the unfortunate poster child of MLBs PED ERA, led MLB in OPS six times and was perennially among the Top 15 hitters in the game each season.
In addition to the coveted all-time homer mark, he still holds the MLB record for home runs in a season (73, set in 2001) and most career walks. As wicked a bat as Bonds swung, he was also known for his speed and defensive prowess, winning eight Gold Gloves for his defense in the outfield.
Bonds blessed baseball with some unbelievable moments and at his peak, he was a walking highlight show and a homerun waiting to happen. Bonds had a run with San Francisco that raised the bar for hitting dominance and a career that is now unfortunately somewhat marred with PED accusations that have not been physically proven to this day.
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In 2007, in the midst of a MLB witch hunt against PED implicated superstars and a particular obsession with Bonds who was obliterating iconic records and sh-itting on the stats of golden age players, was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the federal government’s investigation of BALCO. The perjury charges against Bonds were dropped and an initial obstruction of justice conviction was overturned in 2015.
While other players are forgiven or given passes for their PED implications, Bonds, who never had a cordial relationship with the media, didnt ingratiate himself to the guys who would be eventually deciding his Hall of Fame fate, so in that respect, the damage his image endured for a decade and the relentless media assault on his character is considered partly his fault.
“Barry has never really cultivated the media and cultured the media the way Magic Johnson did and Michael Jordan did or the way Tiger Woods has done,” UC Berkeley sociology professor Harry Edwards once said. “So he doesn’t have the reserve of public relations capital to call upon.”
After being one of the most hated guys in sports, Bonds eventually returned to baseball as a hitting coach and a new generation of less judgmental players have embraced him and all hes missing is that Cooperstown induction.