Though sixteen other men have worn the jersey number 25, the last one to dawn it in for the San Francisco Giants is none other than the Home Run King, Barry Bonds. 25 now hangs with nine other numbers on the Giants own Hall of Fame. The team's CEO Larry Baer, noted that 30,176 men have worn MLB uniforms. Baer continued, “Only 199, less than six-tenths of one percent, have been so extraordinary, so etched into the story of a franchise, that it would be impossible to imagine their number ever gracing another man’s back. And that’s what we have here with Barry Bonds.” Such distinction merits a story.
Thus, on Saturday, August 11, 2018, in what was a beautiful evening in the City by the Bay, some the games' all-time greats and Giants' All-Stars were on deck to share their own story about 25. I don't doubt that every fan in the house could do the same. And, I wonder in the future when a child asks their mom or dad, aunt or uncle about 25, what story will be told? Here's the story I'd like to tell about 25—Sports and Spirituality style.
- 7-time MVP
- 14-time All-Star
- 8-time Gold Glove winner
- 14-time Silver Slugger award winner
- 6 Division Titles
- 73 Home Runs: a single-season record.... One that complemented THE record:
- 762 Home Runs
- 35 Splash Hits: an HR that goes outside of Pac Bell/AT&T Park and into San Francisco Bay
- 2558 walks: (perhaps more than once) a pitcher walked Bonds with the bases loaded.
What intrigues me most in this story about 25 are those four words: "he stole our breath." Glover invites fans to remember those moments where we stood in utter disbelief. When all we could say was "wow!" if that. To have our breath stolen means that air—a source of life— is taken from us. There is, however, nothing pejorative about his remark. But in my story, I think otherwise.
I listened to the ceremony on KNBR 680 AM radio. It was a treat for me to imagine the events as they unfolded. My mind and heart put color—far beyond orange and black—to the celebration. I thought about AT&T Park in its glory, the left field wall ready for its newest number. I rejoiced when I heard that Giants first baseman Will Clark got a standing ovation. I was thrilled Robb Nen was in the house and not surprised that Jeff Kent wasn't. I found myself car dancing when Bonds walked through the centerfield gates to "The Next Episode." I already knew how dapper 25 would look, how fit he is—a truth confirmed by Giants announcer Jon Miller. I got choked up several times, recalling the memories of so many seasons and the reality that it is because of 25 that we now have a downtown ballpark in SF. They refer to Yankee Stadium as "the House that Ruth built," but Giants fans would be misguided if they didn't recognize our cathedral as "the House that Bonds built". And yet, as I listened to the entire ceremony, I realized that at times, it was hard to breathe...once again, it had been stolen. Part of me was uncomfortable....I found myself waiting for a shoe to drop....wondering if anyone would address the elephant in the stadium. Doubting that was even possible....
|Bonds watching "Bonds on Bonds" a reality TV show that lasted 2 months|
Many fans will offer their own story. The media is relentless and I don't really feel the need to defend them, but the image of his recliner in the designated part of the locker room or his refusal to show up for the team photo, sear my memory. The book "Love Me, Hate Me" might be unfair—it did not include Bonds as one of 500 interviews,—but from them, Sports Illustrated's sportswriter Jeff Pearlman concludes that "his reputation as an insufferable braggart, whose mythical home runs are rivaled only by his legendary ego is deserved." The book's description on Amazon adds, "Bonds inspires a like amount of passion from both sides of the fence. For many, Bonds belongs beside Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron in baseball's holy trinity; for others, he embodies all that is wrong with the modern athlete: aloof; arrogant; alienated." Perhaps Bonds could have addressed that he was, quite often, a difficult teammate. Maybe he regrets some of his choices. He wouldn't be the first or the last. Those at the center of the celebration can be humble in victory. There was space for adoration and atonement, glory and remembering those good times. I just wish he had shared a human bend to it all—flawed, fragile, broken and reborn.
|I do love that swing.|
Bleacher Report: A GREAT summary of the day!
Behind the Scenes with BB