Photo credit: @Cabbie
By: Amaury Pi-González
The San Francisco Giants retired Barry Bonds’ number 25 in front of a sellout crowd this Saturday at AT&T Park.
Bonds is a beloved figure in San Francisco, Calif., but not so much for the non-Giants fans in the rest of the country. In these days of polarization in our country, Bonds is a very polarized figure. Bonds rarely makes appearances at other ballparks, as he would probably get an embarrassing round of boos instead of standing ovations.
Although Bonds was never convicted of using steroids, we went through that whole soap opera for many years in the Bay Area from the Balco Laboratory in Burlingame, Calif. and all the unnecessary stuff that came with that story. For a while, it looked like it was never going to end.
The Class of 2018 inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. this month of July, were Larry “Chipper” Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were also on the list along with some others. Once again, Bonds fell short of the 75% of votes required by the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America). Bond had just 56.4%.
I ponder if we will see Bonds inducted into Cooperstown before Pete Rose. The cheers and standing ovations Bonds is showered with at AT&T Park would probably equal a booing noise by other fans across the country. Attorneys use the word “rehabilitate” when they have a witness on the hot seat in front of a jury when he or she has been attacked and his or her reputation is not good. In a way, the Giants are trying to do that with Bonds–a plaque, a retired number and probably a statue at the park–once he is inducted. No need to be an attorney to understand that and the Giants have all the right in the world to do such things as we are a free, open-minded society and one person could be hated by some and adored by others.
I was a part of Bonds’ years with the Giants and called many of his home runs into the water at McCovey Cove, and even at the old Candlestick Park. I traveled with him and always admired his talents on the field. I remember when he arrived to San Francisco from Pittsburgh and the arguably biggest stat then with the Pirates was slugger Bobby Bonilla.
Bonds has 762 home runs and there is nobody close challenging him at the moment. Although the game has become focused on home runs or strikeouts today, somebody could perhaps reach that total in the future.
I arrived into this country as a 17-year-old in 1961, I remember reading the newspapers everyday and watching the news that year on the great home run race between two New York Yankees: the very popular Mickey Mantle, and the not so popular Roger Maris. Maris won with 61 home runs and Mantle finished with 54. Moreover, I remember the older folks saying that the Babe Ruth record could never be broken.
Pete Rose ended his 24-year career in baseball with a .303 average and a record 4,256 hits. Although never found guilty on betting as a player or manager, he did admit it and he still permanently ineligible. The rule is, “Rule 21 Misconduct, (d) Betting on Ball Games, Any player, umpire, or club, or league official, or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”
As far as Bonds’ legal problems? On April 13, 2011, Bonds was convicted of one felony count of obstruction of justice for giving an incomplete answer to a question in grand jury testimony. A mistrial was declared on the remaining three counts of perjury, and those charges were dropped. The obstruction of justice conviction was upheld by an appellate panel in 2013, but a larger panel of the appellate court overturned the conviction in 2015.
So there you have it. Two completely different, but controversial players; one the all-time home run leader, the other the all-time hits leader. In San Francisco and Cincinnati, they would be popular, but outside in the rest of the country and in the court of public opinion, not really. There is no coincidence that these two players with two tremendous records are not seen throwing ceremonial first pitches at All-Star Games or World Series, or representing baseball in any capacity. So far, MLB has not call on them to represent the game. My grandfather used to tell me, “time cures everything. So, maybe years later, these two would be seen in a different light.
You be the judge. Should Bonds go into Cooperstown before Rose? Only time will tell.
Some wise man once said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”
The Oakland A’s are back home this Monday the 13th for a crucial homestand against divisional rivals: Seattle, Houston and Texas. Listen to all the games in Spanish on KIQI 1010AM/990AM in San Francisco, Oakland, San José, Sacramento, Stockton and the Valley.