|Like father, like son: Bacsik tries to follow dad's path and prevent home run No. 756|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 07 August 2007 14:04|
His son, Mike, took the mound Tuesday night in a completely different environment. All anybody cared about was whether the younger Bacsik would give up Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run.
The Bacsiks enjoy a truly remarkable connection. While Clyde and Jaret Wright and Pedro Borbon Sr. and Jr. are among the father-son pitching tandem to face the two sluggers, only the Bacsiks got the chance when both had 755 career home runs.
Definitely like father, like son.
``That is truly amazing,'' the father said in a telephone interview Tuesday. ``At the time I just knew it was the great Hank Aaron. I wasn't thinking about the fact he had 755 home runs.''
That's because Aaron had broken Babe Ruth's record two years earlier and no one knew at the time Bacsik faced him on Aug. 23, 1976, that the Hammer had homered for the last time.
Bacsik entered that game in relief of Jim Umbarger in the fourth inning and faced Aaron twice. He retired him a flyout the first time and then allowed an infield single in Aaron's second at-bat.
``I had a lot of respect for him. He was a great baseball player,'' Bacsik said. ``But at the time, his bat had slowed down a bit. He wasn't as quick as he used to be. But he was a super smart hitter. If you made a mistake, he could make you pay. I was more of sinker, slider, hard-throwing guy. I didn't want to throw him anything soft because he could hook a ball out.''
Bacsik spent five years in the majors, going 8-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 73 games. He also faced Bonds' father, Bobby, allowing an RBI single in two at-bats against him in 1979.
He planned to watch the game at home in Arlington, Texas. He said his wife probably would spend much of the game pacing in the backyard, while Bacsik said he might vacuum the house ``five or six times'' to calm his nerves.
Bacsik said he's not concerned about his son allowing a record-breaking home run that will be replayed for years on television.
``If he gives up a home run, a bomb, it's not the end of the world,'' Bacsik said. ``My son is still pitching in the big leagues.''
The son has a similar attitude, saying Monday he wouldn't enter the at-bats with Bonds with any added fear.
``If it does happen, it's not a horrible thing for Barry Bonds to hit a home run off you,'' he said. ``Me and Al Downing can do card shows together and sign famous autographs for being the guy.''
Downing gave up Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run 33 years ago. Downing won 123 games and pitched in three World Series in a 17-year career, but most people only know him for the one pitch he threw to Aaron on April 8, 1974.
Bacsik has had experience facing Bonds before, matching up five years ago when he was pitching for the Mets. He hit Bonds with a pitch the first time he faced him before retiring him on a foul popup and an RBI groundout in a 3-1 loss to the Giants.
``I've faced him so I've had the butterflies of facing Barry Bonds out of my system but at the same time, I don't think that's going to help me get him out or have a different approach against him because it was so long ago,'' Bacsik said.