|Fans, collectors and Bonds ready for historic homer|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 August 2007 15:50|
When the two Bonds fans set off from Connecticut on a cross-country journey, they hoped to time their arrival in San Francisco with the slugger's record-breaking home run.
So the two were quite pleased when Bonds went into Monday night's game against the Washington Nationals needing just one home run to break Hank Aaron's mark of 755. They picked up a free raft on Craigslist and set out into McCovey Cove, hoping to catch the historic ball.
``We are actually Bonds fans, unlike the rest of the United States,'' McGuire said.
The chase for the record returned to San Francisco where the sold-out stadium was filled with the fans who love Bonds most. After hitting the record-tying shot Saturday night in San Diego and taking off Sunday's game, Bonds headed home needing only one more big swing.
Bonds' godfather, Willie Mays, was in attendance and talked with Bonds in the clubhouse. The fans in the stands, McCovey Cove, nearby bars and throughout the city were excited.
``We all will be, too,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``I'm sure Barry will be. This next one is the big one. It's never been reached before. I think everyone is going to be amped up, players, coaching staff, myself, the fans everyone in this ballpark.''
For an event like this, players are just like fans. Shortstop Omar Vizquel had a video camera in the dugout to record the scene following No. 755, but was admonished for it by baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson.
Ticket reseller StubHub.com reported brisk sales for the game, with the most expensive ticket being sold for $559. This marked the 27th consecutive Giants game that has been sold out, showing the interest in Bonds both at home and on the road.
``I'm getting bugged about tickets,'' Bochy said. ``But they don't want them here. They want them in the Bay. I don't have any pull there.''
Fans came prepared with gloves, nets and anything else that would help them retrieve a ball that could be worth up about $500,000, according to experts.
``People who are on his case are missing a great show,'' said Larry Salomon, who came with his glove. ``He's the best player of our generation ... His at-bats are the most electric in sports. The place is buzzing. I'd trade a couple of broken legs for the ball. I'll do what I need to do.''
The Nationals were trying their best not to get caught up in all the hoopla.
``We're going to play like it just another game,'' manager Manny Acta said. ``It's probably going to be impossible. Because it's history. But that's what we're trying to do.''
The Giants were prepared for a celebration, although they promised that any interruption to the game would be brief after getting criticized for a lengthier delay when Bonds set the single-season record in 2001.
Banners that will pay tribute to his great achievement are waiting be unfurled from the light posts on each side of the main scoreboard. The home run tracker in right-center field that began when Bonds was about 150 home runs away from Aaron's record now shows the tie between the two great sluggers.
Aaron was among the notable people not in attendance for this potential record-breaking night, having long said he had no interest in seeing this event in person. Commissioner Bud Selig, a close friend of Aaron's, was also not here.
After awkwardly watching the record-tying shot Saturday with his hands in his pockets, Selig was back home in Milwaukee for the first two games of this series. Major League Baseball executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson were at the park in Selig's place.
``Selig is bush league,'' Philbrick said.
It was reminiscent of when Aaron set the record in 1974. Then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn was in attendance when Aaron tied Babe Ruth but was not there for the record-breaker, a slight that led to much criticism.
The situation surrounding Bonds is more complicated. Allegations of steroid use have clouded his approach to the accomplishment and has led to a cool reaction around the country.
``I hope he hits it tonight but I really don't like him,'' said Ross Ferguson, a 12-year-old from Sagertown, Pa., who was on vacation in San Francisco with his parents. ``I think he's cocky and I think he did steroids.''
That sentiment was prevalent in San Diego, where Bonds was booed all weekend but mostly cheered after tying the record.
``We know those issues. There's no way they are going to be resolved,'' Giants executive vice president Larry Baer said. ``What we saw in San Diego surprised people. They were booing for a lot of different reasons. They were also cheering the accomplishment. ... Anybody who thinks this is an easy issue and devoid of complexity is not seeing it clearly.''
Associated Press writers Kim Curtis, Paul Elias and Janie McCauley contributed to this report.