Mon, Aug 06, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Bonds hits No. 755 to equal the record

JOINT BESTThe godson of Willie Mays and the son of an All-Star outfielder, the speed of Barry bonds dres more attention than his strength when he broke into the majors

AP, SAN DIEGO

Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, left front, watches a home run, his 755th, during the second inning of the Giants' Major League Baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, California, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Barry Bonds swung, took a half-dozen steps and clapped his hands. With no trace of a smile but a strong shot for all the doubters, he caught Hank Aaron and tied the career home run record on Saturday night.

No. 755 was an opposite-field drive to left-center field, moving Bonds within one swing of having baseball's pinnacle of power all to himself.

Commissioner Bud Selig stood up and put his hands in his pockets while Bonds' family hugged and high-fived. When Bonds crossed the plate, he lifted his batboy son, Nikolai, and carried him several steps in an embrace.

The San Diego crowd stood and cheered, with some boos mixed in, when the San Francisco slugger homered off Clay Hensley in the second inning. Several fans held up asterisk signs. The boos and the asterisk -- denoting his record entries should be conditional -- arise from allegations of Bonds' use of steroids.

Bonds was booed as he headed to left field at the end of the inning. The 43-year-old star has been shadowed by the steroid allegations for years, and many fans feel it taints his chase for the home run record.

It had been eight days since Bonds hit his 754th home run, and he came out for early batting practice on Saturday, hoping to break his slump. He did it quickly, homering to lead off the second.

Bonds hit the tying homer, in fact, off a former Giants draft pick who was suspended in 2005 for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.

It was a day of records. Earlier on Saturday, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run to become the youngest player in history to reach that mark.

Bonds' milestone shot came at 7:29pm local time and traveled an estimated 116m. The ball clunked off an advertising sign on the facade and fell into the navy blue bleachers below -- right below the main scoreboard featuring a giant photo of the smiling slugger.

A fan sitting in that area threw back a ball onto the field, but that was not the historic ball. The man who ended up with the prized souvenir was whisked to a secure area so the specially marked ball could be authenticated.

After Bonds crossed the plate, teammate Ryan Klesko hugged him. Bonds slowly walked through a greeting line of other Giants. Moments later, he walked over to the field-level seats and kissed eight-year-old daughter Aisha and wife, Liz, through the screen.

Bonds then lifted his cap before going to the far end of the dugout and hugging Sue Burns, the wife of late Giants ownership partner Harmon Burns.

The godson of Willie Mays and the son of an All-Star outfielder, Bonds seemed destined for greatness from the start. But his speed drew a lot more attention than his strength when he broke into the majors as a lanky leadoff hitter.

Even when Bonds became a threat to Aaron's record, many fans thought age would slow him down. Instead, his power numbers surged -- as did speculation about steroid use.

Bonds denied that he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs and let the allegations bounce off him, the same way fastballs deflected off his bulky body armor.

The No. 25 became the No. 1 target for boobirds outside the Bay Area. Bonds was constantly shadowed by doubts rather than showered in affection the way Mark McGwire was when he broke the single-season homer record nearly a decade ago.

Yet the McGwire story did not have a happy ending. Disgraced by a poor performance in front of a congressional panel looking into steroids, McGwire basically became a recluse and never came close in his first bid to make the Hall of Fame.

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