In front of a lively crowd — and with a devoted gathering of boaters, netters and divers milling beyond the right field wall in hopes of snagging a historic home run — Giants slugger Barry Bonds gave his loyal San Francisco fans a decent showing as the Giants’ eased to a 6-1 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday night.
But with no home runs by Bonds, most of them went home disappointed.
The slugger reached base in two of his five plate appearances and drove a towering fly ball to center field in the fifth inning that might have left the yard if not for a spectacular catch by Cubs’ center fielder Juan Pierre, who leaped above the fence to glove the blast. But, for the fans who flocked to see Bonds potentially enter history alongside Babe Ruth with a 714th career home run, even a San Francisco victory ranked as something of a disappointment.
"We came out to see him break the record," longtime Bonds’ supporter Jonathan Hall said. "It seems like a lot of people aren’t coming because of everything else going on with him. But it’s still kind of a big deal and we really wanted to be here for it. It’s good to see the team win one, but that’s not really why we bought the tickets."
Met by malevolent crowds on the Giants’ road trips, Tuesday night’s game, which kicked off a six-game homestand, should at least ensure that Bonds enters the record books to cheers, not the jeers prompted by allegations of Bonds’ steroid use. But even the friendly confines of San Francisco don’t seem to be quite what they once were for Bonds — as evidenced by empty seats in the upper deck despite the potentially memorable occasion.
"In the past, there were always way more people here," said Giants fan Joe Dirt, who took his position on the sidewalk overlooking McCovey Cove well before the first pitch of the night. "There should be more people out tonight. I guess the steroid talk has gotten to a lot of us."
For his part, Dirt said he would happily keep trekking out to the games for a chance to put his hands on the historic home run — which among fans was estimated to have value ranging from $10,000 into the hundreds of thousands.
"I don’t even think I’d sell it, though," Dirt said. "You can always get money. This is history."