|Barry Bonds draws supporters at lively courthouse scene|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 December 2007 13:13|
Hours ahead of his court appearance for charges he lied to a grand jury about his steroid use, Bonds' supporters started showing up. Some wore San Francisco Giants jackets, another carried a ``Free Barry'' poster and many cheered when they glimpsed the home run king through a swarm of reporters.
Sacramento travel agent Rich Archuleta, who calls himself Candlestick Rich, held up a Grim Reaper costume on a stick. The get-up came with a sign: ``Welcome to the Geo. Mitchell Witch Hunt'' - a reference to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who's headed baseball's investigation into drugs.
``We're in court. This ain't nice. He's the greatest player who ever lived,'' Archuleta said. ``That hasn't stopped him. The only thing that stops him is the negative press he gets.''
Across the street, the marquee above a tire and auto service shop read ``Say it ain't so Barry.'' No telling whether the 43-year-old slugger saw it when his SUV rolled up about 25 minutes before his 9 a.m. start time.
Meanwhile, a dozen or so business people dressed in suits lined the first-floor window in the State of California building across the street to monitor the lively scene. More than 20 television cameras were set up.
Allen Jones said he'd been a Giants fan for 40 years. He wore a black T-shirt with this message in orange: ``IF BARRY GOES TO JAIL THEN BASEBALL CAN GO TO HELL!''
Jones, who is selling the shirts online for $20, said he doesn't care whether the seven-time NL MVP used steroids during his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record.
Either way, Jones believes Bonds can become an advocate to help baseball eliminate its steroids problem.
``I have suffered from polio since birth and been on crutches 45 years,'' Jones said. ``I had a shoulder problem and the only thing that helped it was steroids. I'm against all illegal drugs. If Barry Bonds can hit 762 home runs, I think he can hit a home run against illegal steroid use.''
Bonds finished his 15th year in San Francisco with 762 career homers. Giants owner Peter Magowan told Bonds in September the club would not re-sign him for 2008.
There still is speculation Bonds might wind up across the bay in Oakland. The A's had interest in acquiring him prior to him being indicted Nov. 15.
At least some A's fans were rooting for No. 25 to wear green and gold.
``THE EAST BAY LOVES BARRY!'' blared a sign held by Oakland resident Patrick Crotty.
``Unlike San Francisco, we will not turn our backs on him. I think they're unfairly prosecuting Barry. If they're going to go after someone, they should go after everyone,'' Crotty said.
Bonds appeared in court barely more than four years after he testified before a grand jury that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He pleaded not guilty to four charges of perjury and one of obstruction of justice.
Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the authors of ``Game of Shadows'' that chronicles Bonds' alleged longtime steroids regimen, were treated like celebrities outside the courthouse.
Before Bonds' attorney Michael Rains got in place, he was stopped by a scantily clad activist from the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She was wearing a lettuce bikini in the Bay Area chill.
``Hey, Rains, would you like a steroid-free sandwich?'' 27-year-old Christina Cho of Los Angeles yelled.
``I'll pass,'' he said, smiling.
``Meat contains steroids. Go vegetarian!'' she shouted.