Barry Bonds, Summer of Love: Part I October 3, 2007Posted by Marquis Chapman in Baseball, MLB, Sports.
With Barry Bonds not coming back to the Giants, and the whole Mark Ecko publicity stunt, I’d figured we would show some love to one of the best sluggers in MLB history. Mr. Insider is a subscribed reader to All Talk Sports and is a rookie reporter for the Castro Valley Newspaper. During the Summer, he became good friends with Barry Bonds and wrote a two part series on his interactions with Bonds. Here is part I of a 2 part series of Mr. Insider’s “Barry Bonds, Summer of Love”.
Barry Bonds, “Summer of Love” Part I
Photo Courtesy of Pete Liebowitz
A spectacular Saturday at AT&T Park. Crystal clear blue sky, sunny balmy 72 degrees. What better time to reflect on Barry Bonds’ 2007 season than to listen to the “Summer of Love” Band entertaining an enthusiastic crowd. Carlton Poward did an eerily perfect impression of legendary Jimi Hendrix, making Woodstock and 1967 seem as if they were yesterday. Songs by the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, The Byrds and my favorite, The Mama’s and The Papa’s, flowered over the crowd as Barry Bonds stood at the dugout steps with his enigmatic smile.
Next two weeks are about Barry, one of the best players of all time, and how I have come to know him. No dwelling on performance enhancement, clubhouse politics or press relations. This is about a baseball writer and his time with Barry Bonds.
The sporting world knows Bonds will eclipse the most hallowed record in sports, Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs. Today, Barry has done it or is just a few swings away from beating that record. Well ahead of his Godfather Willy Mays’ 660 homers. My opinion of this incredible athlete has changed. Regardless of Bonds’ bashers, and there is plenty of ammo for them, here are a few thoughtful facts. Seven MVP awards, with no one else having four. Only member of the 500 homers/500 steals Club. 14 All-star games, homers off a record 443 pitchers, 3rd in runs scored just behind Ty Cobb and Ricky Henderson, with a lifetime slugging percentage of .608
The next two weeks, you decide who is the real Barry Bonds. He is a complex man. One day an orge, the next charming. One day throwing carts in the clubhouse, the next praying with Rev. Jesse Jackson, one day introverted, the next sharing studied insights about the game of baseball, its history, and its stage actors. He is one of those actors.
Early in the season, Barry Bonds stood alone at the batting cage. I walked to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned looking down at me. He then smiled a powerfully infectious smile, shook my hand and said, “Hey man, how’re you doing?” I was taken aback and said, “fine”. I asked Barry how he was doing with all the pressure. “Thank you, I am doing OK now”. It was then his turn into the cage. Later, I was in the dugout chatting with Ray Durham. Bonds stepped down to store his bat. My confidence raised by our earlier exchange, I asked him if he would consider doing a small favor. A young friend was sitting in my seats just behind homeplate proudly wearing his #25 jersey. Avi Kushlan has been an avid fan for 18 years. He was leaning into the players’ tunnel cheering for his hero. I said, “Barry, it would make this young man’s baseball fan career if you would shake his hand and say a few words to him. I know everyone asks, but there it is!”
Barry gave me an intense look and then that smile again without saying a word. I had no clue as to what he was thinking. He walked to the tunnel right pass Avi and soon in the shadows. I figured that was that. As he entered the tunnel, I saw Barry stop suddenly, pause as if in thought, turn and walk back out of his tunnel to Avi. He reached out his hand and said smiling, “Hi, I’m Barry Bonds. How are you doing today?” I didn’t think Avi would let go of Barry ‘s handshake until gametime! Avi was speechless as 1000 other fans screamed for Barry’s attention, some positively and some not! Avi was left grinning ear to ear as Bonds turned, put his game face back on and walked straight ahead into the tunnel.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part II of Mr. Insider’s “Barry Bonds, Summer of Love”.