|After record, Bonds moves on to next step: team photo and 757|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2007 16:58|
A day after his most remarkable triumph yet, Barry Bonds had no cap. And he already was late for the team photo.
``I don't have a hat,'' the slugger said loudly, moments before rushing from the clubhouse to right field to take the picture. ``I need a hat.''
On cue, longtime Giants equipment manager Mike Murphy scurried across the grass to deliver the necessary item to No. 25.
With his 756th home run out of the way and the most hallowed record in sports now his own, Bonds could finally turn his attention to more than hitting homers.
Bonds was in the lineup Wednesday night, batting cleanup and playing left field against the Washington Nationals - and he stepped in and hit another one during his first at-bat.
He received a warm standing ovation when he ran out to his spot in left for the first inning and tipped his hat and waved before blowing on his hands to get warm on another cool summer night in the Giants' ballpark by the bay when first-pitch temperature was 62 degrees.
Bonds smiled and nodded his head to some fans on his way to the on-deck circle in the first, then wasted no time adding to his record total.
No. 757 was a two-run shot into McCovey Cove. In his first at-bat since becoming home run king, Bonds sent a 1-1 pitch from Tim Redding into the bay beyond the right-field fence, a 438-foot drive that was his 35th career splash hit and second this year.
Redding became the 447th pitcher to surrender a home run to Bonds after Mike Bacsik served up the record-breaker a night earlier. Bonds hit his 23rd homer of the season, then tipped his cap when he came out in the top of the second to play left field.
When Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season record with No. 71 in 2001, he homered again in his next at-bat to increase the record just like this time. The only difference was he had a night in between the at-bats.
From the White House, to international home run king Sadaharu Oh in Japan, to his first major league manager, Jim Leyland, and onto Alex Rodriguez, the congratulations began to pour in for the San Francisco star, who realized in recent weeks just how difficult it is to clear the fences when that's all you're trying to do.
``Now, the hard part's over, and we get to actually go back to our everyday routines and enjoy ourselves,'' Bonds said.
Not that he didn't enjoy the celebration after breaking Aaron's mark Tuesday night in his home ballpark.
But Bonds quickly took a glimpse toward the future Wednesday: Yes, he does believe A-Rod will one day unseat him atop the home run chart.
The Yankees third baseman reached 500 at age 32 and is far ahead of Bonds' pace.
``I'm not trying to set any bars. Alex will break my record,'' Bonds said, standing at his locker with a much smaller swarm of reporters than he's faced in recent weeks. ``He's young enough to catch anybody. Like I said I'm rooting for him. He got through one. Each one gets a little bit tougher.''
Would he campaign for them to be teammates somewhere?
``I don't have recruiting powers,'' Bonds said.
It took him a while to wind down from all the excitement surrounding this feat. His wife, Liz, sported a black T-shirt reading ``The King and I'' on the front. And Bonds had his two daughters, Shikari and Aisha, son Nikolai, his mother, Pat, and a sister to celebrate the moment.
Not to mention Hall of Fame godfather, Willie Mays, his agent, two of his trainers, a pair of publicists and many other friends thrilled to be part of it.
Some fans watched the team photo unfold from the peek-a-boo knothole area beyond the fence from where the picture was shot.
``Barry!'' one person hollered.
``I'm just tickled to death for him,'' Leyland said. ``What I feel is different than anyone else might feel. I have a personal relationship with him. I was his first manager and I raised him.''
Bonds' received a call from President Bush on Wednesday morning.
``He said congratulations. He said it was great to have my kids there, my family there,'' Bonds recalled of the conversation. ``With his father being famous as well, he understood the importance of my father. He said it was an outstanding achievement.''
Bonds' solo shot over the wall in right-center gave his hometown fans yet another reason to cheer and celebrate him and forget - for this night at least - the suspicions that steroids fueled his pursuit of the Hammer.
``This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period,'' Bonds said late Tuesday night.
Next up for the 43-year-old Bonds? He hopes it's reaching 3,000 hits, and he plans to play in 2008 and beyond, as long as his body allows it.
He has 2,915 hits now.
``I haven't gotten there yet, but I want it,'' Bonds said of 3,000.
Bonds' milestone came on the three-year anniversary of Greg Maddux's 300th victory in this stadium and the fifth anniversary of players agreeing to drug testing.
A grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified in the BALCO case that he hadn't knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Someone asked whether the grand jury had come up in his conversation with the President.
``Are you serious? Are you dead serious? It never ends,'' Bonds said.
When Bonds arrived at the stadium, he was making his way through the quiet hallway from the players' parking lot to the clubhouse when a female ballpark worker saw him.
``You did it!'' she said, and Bonds smiled and acknowledged her.
The record has meant so much to everybody, especially those with a front-row seat to witness history - like Bonds' teammates.
``We're all cherishing this moment,'' Mark Sweeney said. ``We're all happy for him and to be a part of it. It was a special night for San Francisco.
``All I can say from the 24 guys in this locker room, it's moment we'll remember. It's part of baseball history.''
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this story.