Barry Bonds

From Academic Kids

Barry Bonds
Bonds at the plate Photo: Agncia Brasil
Position Left Field
Team San Francisco Giants
Years of experience 19 years
Age 40
Height 6-2
Weight 230 lbs.
Bats Left
Throws Left
College Arizona State
2005 Salary $22,000,000
Place of Birth Riverside, California
Selection Amateur draft, 1985
Signed by Pittsburgh Pirates
Major League Debut May 30, 1986

Barry Lamar Bonds (born July 24, 1964 in Riverside, California) is a professional baseball player for the San Francisco Giants; he is most famous for his home run hitting. He holds the record for most homers in a season with 73 and is third on the career list with 703 (as of the end of the 2004 season). He is generally considered among the greatest players of all time. For those who view baseball through the prism of sabermetrics, he, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams are the top three hitters. However, he is the focus of a raging debate in the baseball world, centering on two questions: has he had help in the form of illegal performance-improving drugs, and if so, to what degree, if any, does the use of these drugs diminish his accomplishments? This debate has been further fueled by reports of testimony given in the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative scandal.



The son of former all-star Bobby Bonds, Barry Bonds graduated in 1982 from Serra High School (San Mateo, Calif.), excelling in baseball, basketball and football. Although he was immediately drafted by the San Francisco Giants, Bonds chose to go to college first, playing baseball and earning a degree at Arizona State University in criminal justice. He began his Major League career in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1993, he left the Pirates to sign as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants.

Bonds' speed and power in his early and middle years recalled his father's abilities. Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays is his godfather. Reggie Jackson, another Baseball Hall of Famer, is his cousin. Bonds is injured in 2005.


In 2000, Bonds' teammate Shawon Dunston told Sports Illustrated (June 5 issue), "He's not going to hit 70 homers, but he believes he can. That's frightening." The next year, Bonds set the single-season home run record, hitting 73 to break Mark McGwire's 70-homer mark set in 1998. Some analysts consider Bonds's 2001 performance among the greatest hitting seasons in history. Besides the home run record, he set single-season marks for bases on balls with 177 (topping Ruth's 170 in 1923) and slugging percentage with .863 (beating Ruth's .847 in 1920). Bonds also tied the National League record for most extra base hits in a season (107, also accomplished by Chuck Klein in 1930). In 2002, opposing pitchers refused to give him as many balls to hit, one reason he did not repeat his 73-homer feat. Partly because pitchers tried to "pitch around" him whenever possible, he bettered his own record for walks with 198, which contributed greatly to a .582 on-base percentage, breaking Williams' 1941 record of .551. He also won the National League batting title with a .370 average, becoming the oldest player to win the honor for the first time. In 2004, he won his second batting title with a .362 average. He also broke two of his own records: OPS, with 1.422, and on-base percentage with .609 -- the only time a player has bettered .600 over an entire season.

Bonds has been voted the National League's Most Valuable Player seven times, in 1990, 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. He is the first player in MLB history to be MVP in four, or even three consecutive years, and no other player has won the award more than three times. He was second in the voting for that award twice: in 1991 to Terry Pendleton of the Atlanta Braves, and in 2000 to teammate Jeff Kent. During the 2002 season, Bonds became the fourth man to hit 600 career home runs.

Bonds has won eight Gold Glove awards as an outfielder, which is the third most ever for that position. He has been named to 13 National League All-Star teams: 1990, 1992-1998, 2000-2004.

Bonds became the first ever 400-400 player (400 home runs and 400 stolen bases) on August 23, 1998, when he hit home run number 400 off of Florida's Kirt Ojala. He stole his 400th base on July 26, 1997 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Candlestick Park. On June 23, 2003, Bonds recorded his 500th stolen base in the eleventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Pacific Bell Park (now SBC Park). Bonds later scored the winning run. By chance, his ailing father Bobby was in attendance that night. With 633 career home runs at the time, Bonds became the first 500-500 player in baseball history, already the only member of the 400-400 club. In addition, in 1996 Bonds became the second of the three current members of the so called 40-40 club: 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one season. The other two members are Jos Canseco and Alex Rodriguez.

Bonds is among the power hitters who "crowd the plate": standing in such a way that his body is almost over the plate (and thus close to the strike zone). Because of Bonds and others like Mo Vaughn, in 2001 the MLBA instructed umpires to call a slightly different strike zone, calling more high inside pitches strikes. The new regulations also banned hitters from using hard protective gear, which was letting them get closer to the plate.

On April 12, 2004, Bonds hit his 660th home run, tying him with his godfather Willie Mays for 3rd on the all-time career home run list in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Giants' home, SBC Park. Larry Ellison (not the CEO of Oracle Corporation) caught the home run and returned it to Barry. He hit his 661st home run the next day, April 13, at the same venue placing him in outright third behind Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). Ellison also caught number 661, but kept it for himself with Barry's blessing. (Ellison was in a kayak in McCovey Cove, an arm of San Francisco Bay that lies behind the right-field stands at SBC Park, so this wasn't quite the amazing coincidence it appears at first sight.)

On July 4, 2004, Bonds passed Rickey Henderson to take the lead in career walks, with his 2191st walk. Later in 2004, he broke his own single-season record for walks, becoming the first player with over 200 in a season and ending the season with 232. His total of 232 walks was almost 100 more than the next closest leader, Lance Berkman. Included in Bonds' 2004 total were 120 intentional walks, the most issued since MLB began recording them in 1954.

Bonds also has the 2nd and 3rd highest single-season intentional walk totals, with 68 in 2002 and 61 in 2003. He has been the league leader in the category for 13 of the past 14 seasons.

Bonds holds almost every Major League Baseball record in existence for intentional walks with four in a nine-inning game (2004), 120 in a season (2004) and 604 in his career (more than the next two players on the all-time list, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey, combined). Bonds, a prolific home run hitter, is a preferable choice for an intentional walk by opposing teams. In the first month of the 2004 baseball season, Bonds drew 43 walks, 22 of them intentional. He broke his previous record of 68 intentional walks, set in 2002, on July 10, 2004 in his last appearance before the All-Star break. On May 28, 1998, Bonds became one of only four players in Major League history to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded, when the Arizona Diamondbacks elected to give up a run and face catcher Brent Mayne instead.

On September 17, 2004 Bonds hit his 700th home run off San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy in San Francisco and became only the third man to achieve the 700 home run plateau.

On March 22, 2005, Bonds announced that he could be sidelined for the rest of the 2005 season because of surgery on his knee. At the press conference, Bonds also indicated that he was frustrated by the focus on his alleged steroid use and the negative portrayal of him in the media. However, his teammates, manager, and trainer believe that he will probably be out only about a month. Later, Bonds sounded positive about his rehabilitation and told fans at the Opening Day festivities, "I will be back!" If or when Bonds returns to the playing field, he will be subjected to perhaps unprecedented scrutiny by the media and baseball fans, particularly in light of baseball's recently toughened testing program for steroids. On May 4, 2005, Bonds revealed on his website that he had undergone a third arthriscopic knee surgery because of a bacterial infection in his knee. This setback made it nearly impossible that Bonds will play before the All Star Break. It also raised much speculation over if Hank Aaron's home run record of 755 is out of reach.

The BALCO Scandal

In 2003, Bonds became embroiled in a scandal when Greg F. Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, Bonds' trainer since 2000, was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including a number of unnamed 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 and legitimate dietary supplements.

But various baseball pundits, fans, and even players have speculated that Bonds uses illegal steroids. Bonds is a statistical and biological anomaly among baseball players, as his hitting prowess has grown much greater, in spite of being 40 years old: an age at which most great baseball players are in the twilight of their careers and are either retired or seriously contemplating retirement. Nevertheless, steroids are known to deteriorate bodily functions as one grows older, a pattern that fails to appear in Bonds.

During grand jury testimony in December 2003 -- which was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle and published in December 2004 -- Bonds said that Anderson gave him a rubbing balm and a liquid substance which others identified as "the cream" and "the clear." The paper reported that these substances were probably designer steroids. Bonds has said that at the time he did not believe them to be steroids, yet Bonds also said a year earlier to a reporter that it would be impossible for him to unknowingly take steroids.


During the 2005 season, Barry Bonds is the second highest paid player in Major League Baseball at $22 million.

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