Teammates enjoy Bonds' homer
Giants players try to describe what it means to be part of it
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' clubhouse was bathed in brightness, from the orange commemorative T-shirts players wore to the grins on their faces.It all resulted from Barry Bonds' 756th home run, which the Giants' left fielder delivered Tuesday night to break Hank Aaron's all-time record. Bonds' achievement had been regarded as inevitable all season. "I've been looking forward to it from day one of Spring Training, and I think everybody else has," right-hander Russ Ortiz said.
But that didn't minimize the impact of the feat or the excitement it generated among the Giants, once it occurred at 8:51 p.m. PT.Most of the Giants immediately knew that Bonds had reached his long-awaited milestone once he connected with Mike Bacsik's 3-2 pitch in the fifth inning of the Giants' 8-6 loss to the Washington Nationals. "There wasn't even a question mark," Giants left-hander Jack Taschner said. "My memory for the rest of my life will be Vinnie Chulk screaming at the top of his lungs, 'That's it! It's gone!' There was no doubt that ball was getting out of here." Bonds' first two at-bats, a searing second-inning double to right-center and a sharp third-inning single to center, suggested that the cleanup hitter was at peak form. "The way he was swinging the bat, it was hard not to see it happening today," right-hander Brad Hennessey said. Once Bonds' drive cleared AT&T Park's right-center-field fence, the Giants spilled out of the dugout to greet their teammate -- and their emotions spilled over them, too. Infielder Kevin Frandsen, a lifelong Giants fan who grew up in nearby San Jose, was still aglow long after the game ended. "This whole experience has been unbelievable," Frandsen said. Recalling Bonds' 755th homer that tied Aaron last Saturday, Frandsen related, "The other day I had goosebumps in San Diego on a warm night. I showed [Barry] Zito and said, 'Look what's going on.' To experience that, it's unfathomable. When you get drafted, you don't really think about that stuff. Now that we're here and it happens, it's pretty insane." First baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney noticed the father-son attachment, such a strong element in baseball, as Bonds hugged his son, Nikolai, who was serving as a Giants batboy. "You look at Nikolai, he was a little kid when Barry hit his 500th home run [in 2001], and now he's a big kid in his dad's arms -- it's awesome," Sweeney said. Infielder Rich Aurilia, who played with Bonds in San Francisco from 1995-2003 before rejoining the Giants this season, simply was happy for Bonds the man. "I'm proud to say I've been a teammate of his for a long time," Aurilia said. "People outside, they only see what's portrayed through the media and press. They don't see the guy we see every day in here. He's been nothing but great this year. Easy to get along with, supportive of his teammates. And it was great that he did it here in San Francisco, a place he's been for years." Incidentally, the Giants still had a game to play. Bonds was removed from the game before the top of the sixth inning, but others didn't have it so easy. "I was dazed the rest of the game," first baseman Ryan Klesko said. "I couldn't believe I was there. With all the emotions running at the same time, I was trying to stay focused." Besides the sheer magnitude of Bonds' milestone, the evening's twin tributes are destined to stick with the Giants: The videotape of Aaron congratulating Bonds that was shown on the ballpark's scoreboard, and the brief champagne toast players held for their teammate after the game's conclusion. Aaron's impact was undeniable. "It's pretty hard to top Muhammad Ali," Sweeney said, referring to the subject of Monday's video tribute to Bonds. "And all of a sudden, they did." "The whole crowd hushed," Taschner said. "So you know what this record means and what [Aaron] meant to baseball." Hoisting a glass with -- or in most cases, paper cups -- also meant much to his teammates.
"That's what this game's all about, the team, and he wanted to share it with us, too," Frandsen said.It gave the Giants an opportunity to celebrate Bonds' achievement with him -- away from the media, away from the performance-enhancing drug controversy that has engulfed him, away from the demanding public. "He doesn't get many moments like that. It's always on the field with cheers and boos," Sweeney said. "This was good for baseball, however anyone thinks about it. It brings that energy to somebody who's been really good for the game."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.