Today marks the 11 year anniversary of Barry Bonds breaking MLB's home run record with his 756 ending Hank Aaron's 31 year reign as baseball's home run king.
The San Francisco Giants will honor MLB's home run king Barry Bonds this Saturday, August 11 with a jersey retirement ceremony in front of the home crowd at AT&T Park. Bonds will become the first player ever to have his jersey retired without first being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Why though? Why is MLB's all time home run leader the first?
Bonds' historic career began in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he would play the first seven years of his career. While with Pittsburgh, Bonds would total two MVP awards while averaging .275 at the plate and slugging 176 of his record setting 762 home runs.
His second MVP award in his last season with the Pirates would provide Bonds the opportunity of a lifetime. The ability to come home.
The offseason prior to the 1993 season Bonds would sign a then-record contract for six years worth $43.75 million with the San Francisco Giants. The rest is history.
Barry Bonds would go on to become the only member of the 500/500 club and lead the league in home runs twice including his record setting 73 in 2001. During his tenure with the Giants, Bonds was given the title of "the most feared hitter in major league baseball."
Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux offered a rather funny but telling story about facing Bonds.
"He was the easiest guy in the world to pitch to because if it mattered you just walked him. He was so much better than all the other hitters in the game,” Maddux said. “You got to pick your fights. You got to get 27 outs and you got to know where they are. They’re not going to be with him. So you got pick on the other eight guys if you can fight them that way.”
Hall of Fame players can show respect for Barry Bonds but Hall of Fame voters can't. Where is the disconnect?
Steroids is the likely cause but Bonds never tested positive. Innocent until proven guilty is how the United States court system works right? Why does the BBWA operate any differently?
An increasing number of votes show promise for Bonds' chances at a place in the hall but with only 56.4 percent and only a few years left on the ballot it looks bleak for one of baseballs greatest hitters.
The promising but small uptick in votes is due to older voters being cast out and younger ones brought in. "Keeping the game pure" has seemed to be the motto for older voters but younger ones don't feel as strong. This can be seen with the recent inductions of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. All connected PED's in someway.
If the younger voters are willing to induct players linked to PED's Barry Bonds must be the next.
Bonds is baseball's home run king, clobbering 762 in his career. He also holds the record for most walks, 2,558, and most intentional walks with 688. In his Hall of Fame worthy 22 year career, Bonds accumulated the most MVP awards of all time with seven. He is a 14 time all star, has 12 silver sluggers, and eight gold gloves while ranking fourth all time with a 162.8 WAR (win above replacement).
I’ll leave you with a quote from former MLB player and current MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes, “The Hall of Fame’s motto is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations”…. By not recognizing the “steroid era” in general and honoring that times greatest players the ‘Hall’ is failing to do any of the three."