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Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds

Position(s):
CF, OF, LF, RF, DH
Born:
July 24, 1964
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
185 lbs
Major League Debut:
5-30-1986 with PIT
Allstar Selections:
1990 GG, 1990 ML, 1990 MVP, 1990 SS, 1991 GG, 1991 SS, 1992 GG, 1992 MVP, 1992 SS, 1993 GG, 1993 MVP, 1993 SS, 1994 GG, 1994 SS, 1996 GG, 1996 SS, 1997 GG, 1997 SS, 1998 GG, 2000 SS, 2001 Hank A, 2001 ML, 2001 MVP, 2001 SS, 2002 Hank A, 2002 MVP, 2002 SS, 2003 MVP, 2003 SS, 2004 Hank A, 2004 ML, 2004 MVP, 2004 SS

Barry Bonds

Gifted with tremendous power, speed, and natural hitting ability, Barry Bonds became the most celebrated player of his generation.  Still, a huge cloud hangs over many of his greatest achievements due to allegations made that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Content:

 

Early Life

Barry Lamar Bonds was born on July 24, 1964 in Riverside, California.  His father, Bobby, who got his start in the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants in 1968, was an outstanding outfielder who compiled 332 home runs and 461 stolen bases over the course of his career.  Barry had the further distinction of having Hall of Fame centerfielder Willie Mays as his godfather.  .

While a senior in high school, Bonds was selected by the Giants in the second round of the 1982 draft.  However, the two sides subsequently found themselves unable to agree on contract terms, prompting Bonds to enroll at Arizona State University.  In three years at ASU, he hit .347, with 45 home runs and 175 RBIs.  After earning Sporting News All-American honors as a junior, Bonds was drafted sixth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985.  He spent the remainder of the year playing for Pittsburgh's Prince William club in the Carolina League, before joining the Hawaii Islanders of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League at the start of the 1986 campaign.  Bonds batted .311 in 44 games at Hawaii, earning a quick call-up to Pittsburgh. 

Pittsburgh

Bonds made his major-league debut on May 30, 1986, at only 21 years of age.  Standing 6' 2" and weighing 185 pounds when he first joined the Pirates, Bonds batted and threw lefthanded.  Although he posted an unimpressive .223 batting average as a rookie, Bonds showed promise by hitting 16 home runs in 413 at-bats, while also stealing 36 bases in 43 attempts.  Furthermore, he displayed solid defensive skills as Pittsburgh's centerfielder, collecting 10 assists and making just five errors.  Bonds ended up finishing sixth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting.

After splitting his time between left field and center field the following year, Bonds became Pittstburgh's everyday leftfielder in 1988.  The move helped offset the average throwing arm that was his only shortcoming as a player.  A leftfielder the remainder of his career, Bonds compensated for his lone flaw by releasing his throws with unusual quickness and accuracy. Bonds posted relatively modest numbers at the plate from 1987 to 1989.

MVP Years

Bonds became a full-fledged star in 1990, hitting .301 with 33 home runs and 114 RBIs, while stealing 52 bases.  His first such "30-30" season enabled Bonds to join his father on the rather exclusive list of players who surpassed 30 homers and 30 steals in the same season.  Bonds' outstanding performance earned him league MVP honors and his first Gold Glove Award.  It also helped the Pirates capture the National League's Eastern Division title, thereby allowing them to return to the postseason for the first time since winning the World Series in 1979.  However, Pittsburgh lost to Cincinnati in six games in the NLCS, with Bonds hitting just .167.  The outfielder's poor showing turned out to be just the first in a long string of disappointing playoff performances.

In 1991 and 1992, Bonds cemented his status as one of the game's finest all-around players.  He made only three errors in the outfield each season, earning a Gold Glove each year.  Bonds enjoyed his second "30-30" season in 1992, finishing the year with 34 home runs and 39 steals, while also winning his second MVP award.  Yet, despite helping the Pirates capture their second and third consecutive Eastern Division titles, Bonds continued to struggle during the postseason.  He batted just .148 in the 1991 playoffs, then following that up by hitting an unproductive .261 in 1992, as Pittsburgh fell both years to the Atlanta Braves in seven games.  In 20 NLCS games from 1990-92, Bonds had just one home run and three RBIs.

San Francisco Giants

Bonds signed a six-year free-agent contract with the San Francisco Giants for $43.75 million prior to the start of the 1993 campaign, making him baseball's wealthiest player, in terms of both total value and average annual salary.  Having grown up near San Francisco, where his father spent seven seasons playing for the Giants, the move very much represented a return to home for Bonds.  His first season as a Giant was his finest yet, as he established new personal highs in batting average (.336), home runs (46), and RBIs (123), en route to capturing his second consecutive MVP award, and his third overall.

The next several years brought Bonds continued success.  He won his fifth consecutive Gold Glove in 1994.  The next year, he achieved his third "30-30" season, hitting 33 home runs and stealing 31 bases.  He exceeded both marks in 1996, when, by compiling 42 homers and 40 steals, he became baseball's second-ever "40-40" player.  By doing so, Bonds duplicated the feat accomplished by Jose Canseco eight years earlier.  (Barry's father, Bobby, nearly accomplished the feat in 1973 as well, when he stole 43 bases and hit 39 home runs).  Bonds also became only the fourth player ever to collect 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases in his career, joining Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Bobby Bonds on that exclusive list.

Hitting 40 homers and stealing 37 bases in 1997, Bonds tied his father for the most "30-30" seasons, with five.  He also led the Giants to the Western Division title.  But he failed to produce in the postseason yet again, batting just .250, with no home runs and two RBIs, as the Giants were swept in three games by the Florida Marlins in the NLDS.

Bonds won his eighth and final Gold Glove in 1998, also becoming the first player ever to accumulate 400 homers and 400 steals.  After a season of diminished playing time due to injury in 1999, Bonds rebounded in 2000 with another outstanding campaign.  Though, at age 36, he no longer posed the same threat on the bases he did earlier in his career, Bonds was still a fearsome hitter, batting .306, knocking in 106 runs, and establishing a new personal best with 49 home runs.  San Francisco won the Western Division, but Bonds suffered through another poor playoff series, hitting just .176, with no home runs and only one RBI, as the Giants lost to the New York Mets, three games to one.

Record Setting Season 2001

In 2001, Bonds produced one of the most remarkable seasons in baseball history.  Utilizing his phenomenal hitting ability, along with his tremendous knowledge of the strike zone and discipline at the plate, he set major-league records with 73 home runs and 177 walks.  With just 476 official at-bats, he established an unprecendented ratio of one home run to every 6.5 at-bats.  Bonds' slugging percentage of .863 broke Babe Ruth's 80-year-old single-season record, and his on-base percentage of .515 represented the highest mark in over 40 years.  Along with his .328 batting average, the figures served as a testament to Bonds' amazing consistency in making solid contact with the ball whenever he received anything to hit.  At season's end, he became the first player to win four MVP awards.

2002 - 2004 3 Consecutive MVP Awards

Bonds signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Giants in January, 2002.  In his late-30's at the time, his drive to be the game's greatest player remained undiminished.  His rigorous off-season conditioning program prepared him for the start of each season, and his hitting remained extraordinary.  In 2002, Bonds became the oldest player ever to win his first batting title, with a career-best average of .370 at age 38.  He broke his own record by drawing 198 walks, and his on-base percentage of .582 surpassed Ted Williams' previous all-time major-league standard.  Among his 46 home runs was the 600th of his career, making him just the fourth player to reach that particular milestone.  Bonds received an unprecedented fifth MVP award at the end of the year.

After San Francisco won the National League "wild card" race in 2002, Bonds overcame his history of ineffectiveness in the playoffs.  In the NLDS, he batted .294, with three home runs and four RBIs, as the Giants edged Atlanta in five games.  San Francisco then defeated St. Louis in the NLCS, four games to one, with Bonds hitting .273, with one homer and six RBIs.  Although the Giants ended up losing the World Series to the Anaheim Angels in seven games, Bonds played heroically, batting .471 with four homers and six RBIs, despite receiving 13 walks.  Despite San Francisco's heartbreaking loss, Bonds ended up tying the record for most home runs in a single postseason, with eight.  He also established a new mark for slugging percentage in the World Series, at 1.294.

Bonds' remarkable production continued in 2003, as he hit .341 with 45 home runs in only 390 official at-bats.  At .529, his on-base percentage was well above .500 for the third consecutive year.  He also stole the 500th base of his career, placing him in the "500-500" club, a distinction no other player had achieved.  The Giants won the Western Division, but Bonds endured more difficulty in the postseason, batting .222 with no home runs and two RBIs in the NLDS against the Florida Marlins, who defeated the Giants in four games.

The 2004 season brought with it more amazing accomplishments from Bonds, who hit .362 to win his second batting title.  With a slugging percentage of .812, he joined Babe Ruth as the only players ever to post two seasons with a mark above .800.  He passed his godfather, Willie Mays, on the career home run list, eventually reaching the 700-homer plateau by season's end.  By collecting 45 home runs while striking out only 41 times, he joined an elite group of major leaguers who have totaled more homers than strikeouts in a season.  Bonds also broke his own major-league records by drawing 232 walks and compiling an on-base percentage of .609.  For his efforts, he received his fourth consecutive MVP award, and his seventh overall, making him the only player ever to be so honored more than three times.

Chasing Aaron

Bonds suffered a knee injury in 2005 that required him to undergo multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.  He did not play until September 12th, finishing the season with five home runs in 14 games.  Nevertheless, Bonds continued to close in on Babe Ruth on the all-time home-run list, finally surpassing the Bambino when he clouted his 715th homer against the Colorado Rockies on May 28th of the following year.  Still, the 42-year-old's overall numbers were not particularly impressive, as he finished the year with 26 home runs, 77 runs batted in, and a .270 batting average.

Public Opinion and Breaking the record

Public opinion remained divided as Bonds neared Hank Aaron's career home-run record during the 2007 season.  Many people believed that Bonds owed his prolific power-hitting totals at such a relatively late stage in his career, at least in part, to the use of steroids.  Yet, even amid such doubts, there was no denying that Bonds' devotion to strenuous training, along with his innate athletic ability, enabled him to remain one of the best and most feared hitters in the game well into his 40's.

On August 4, 2007, Bonds homered off Clay Hensley of the San Diego Padres to tie Aaron's mark.  Three days later, he hit his 756th home run against Make Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, thereby setting a new all-time standard.  Moments after Bonds rounded the bases, the game was stopped and a brief video was shown on the scoreboard in which Hank Aaron graciously congratulated Bonds for breaking the record he had held for 33 years.  Aaron expressed his hope that "the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

Bonds finished the 2007 season having hit .276, with 28 home runs and 66 RBIs in 340 at-bats over 126 games.  Though he'd turned 43 in July, he led both leagues with 132 walks.

Retirement and trouble after Baseball

The Giants did not offer Bonds a contract for 2008, and no other team elected to sign him.  On November 15, 2007, he was indicted for allegedly lying in 2003 to a federal grand jury during its investigation of a laboratory near San Francisco that was suspected of distributing steroids.  During his testimony, Bonds denied ever knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.  His trial is scheduled to begin on March 21, 2011. Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of Justice, to which he is appealing.

Over the course of his career, Bonds hit .298, with 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBIs, and 514 stolen bases.  A 14-time All-Star, he is the all-time major-league leader in home runs (762), walks (2,558), intentional walks (688), and consecutive seasons with 30 or more home runs (13).  He holds the single-season home run record with 73.  He and his father, Bobby, top the list of father-son combinations with 1,094 career home runs and 975 stolen bases.

On April 9, 2004, Greg Maddux, who won 355 games in his major-league pitching career, said of Barry Bonds, "He's always been the best player in the game.  Is he the best ever?  What do I know.  I only know what happened in the nineties.  He's always been a complete player.  He didn't have to hit 30 extra home runs to convince me of that."

Controversies
BALCO scandal
Since 2003, Bonds has been a key figure in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) scandal. He was under investigation by a federal grand jury regarding his testimony in the BALCO case, and was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges on November 15, 2007. The indictment alleges that Bonds lied while under oath about his alleged use of steroids.

In 2003, Bonds became embroiled in a scandal when Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), Bonds' trainer since 2000, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including a number of baseball players. This led to speculation that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs during a time when there was no mandatory testing in Major League Baseball. Bonds declared his innocence, attributing his changed physique and increased power to a strict regimen of bodybuilding, diet and legitimate supplements.

During grand jury testimony on December 4, 2003, Bonds said that he used a clear substance and a cream that he received from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, who told him they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis. This testimony, as reported by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, has frequently been misrepresented. Later reports on Bonds's leaked grand-jury testimony contend that he admitted to unknowingly using "the cream" and "the clear".

In July 2005, all four defendants in the BALCO steroid scandal trial, including Anderson, struck deals with federal prosecutors that did not require them to reveal names of athletes who may have used banned drugs.

Perjury investigation and federal indictment
On November 15, 2007, Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice as it relates to the government investigation of BALCO.

On February 14, 2008 a typo in court papers filed by Federal prosecutors erroneously alleged that Bonds tested positive for steroids in November, 2001, a month after hitting his record 73rd home run. The reference was meant instead to refer to a November 2000 test that had already been disclosed and previously reported. The typo sparked a brief media frenzy.

His trial for obstruction of justice was to have begun on March 2, 2009, but jury selection was postponed due to 11th-hour appeals by the prosecution. The trial commenced on March 21, 2011, in U. S. District Court, Northern District of California, Judge Susan Illston presiding. Writers with The New York Times do not expect Bonds to get prison time after pro cyclist Tammy Thomas received house arrest and probation for similar crimes in the BALCO scandal.

Players' Union
Bonds withdrew from the MLB Players Association's (MLBPA) licensing agreement because he felt independent marketing deals would be more lucrative for him. Bonds is the first player in the thirty-year history of the licensing program not to sign. Because of this withdrawal, his name and likeness are not usable in any merchandise licensed by the MLBPA. In order to use his name or likeness, a company must deal directly with Bonds. For this reason he does not appear in some baseball video games, forcing game-makers to create generic athletes to replace him. For example, Bonds is replaced by "Jon Dowd" in MVP Baseball 2005.

Game of Shadows
In March, 2006 the book Game of Shadows, written by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, was released amid a storm of media publicity including the cover of Sports Illustrated. Initially small excerpts of the book were released by the authors in the issue of Sports Illustrated. The book alleges Bonds used stanozolol and a host of other steroids, and is perhaps most responsible for the change in public opinion regarding Bonds' steroid use.

The book contained excerpts of grand jury testimony that is supposed to be sealed and confidential by law. The authors have been steadfast in their refusal to divulge their sources and at one point faced jail time.[149] On February 14, 2007, Troy Ellerman, one of Victor Conte's lawyers, pled guilty to leaking grand jury testimony. Through the plea agreement, he will spend two and a half years in jail.

Love Me, Hate Me
In May 2006, former Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman released a revealing biography of Bonds entitled Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero. The book also contained many allegations against Bonds. The book, which describes Bonds as a polarizing insufferable braggart with a legendary ego and staggering ability, relied on over five hundred interviews, except with Bonds himself.

Bonds on Bonds
In April 2006 and May 2006, ESPN aired a few episodes of a 10-part reality TV (unscripted, documentary-style) series starring Bonds. The show, titled Bonds on Bonds, focused on Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's home run records. Some felt the show should be put on hiatus until baseball investigated Bonds' steroid use allegations.[154] The series was canceled in June 2006, ESPN and producer Tollin/Robbins Productions citing "creative control" issues with Bonds and his representatives.

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Tagged:
1990 NLCS, 1991 NLCS, 1992 NLCS, All Star, Barry Bonds, Baseball History, Gold Glove, MLB Current, MVP, Members of the 500 Home Run Club, NL MVP 1990, NL MVP 1992, NL MVP 1993, PEDS, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants

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