Barry Bonds is just a tad bitter about his departure from the San Francisco Giants. The 43-year-old home run king heard a long list of his accomplishments read during a special speaking forum Wednesday night hosted by the Commonwealth Club, then was asked by KGO Radio host Ray Taliaferro if he'd really reached all those feats.
Fourteen All-Star game selections. A record seven NL MVPs. Eight Gold Glove awards.
“I did, and then I got fired,” Bonds told a group of about 450 people in the audience. “Shame on me, huh?”
Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's home run record with No. 756 on Aug. 7, was told last month by Giants owner Peter Magowan that he would not be brought back for a 16th season in San Francisco.
Bonds, dressed in a dark suit jacket and tie, entered to a roaring standing ovation and repeatedly drew loud applause from an adoring crowd through the nearly 90-minute forum. They chanted, “Barry! Barry!” One personhollered, “We love you.” Others took pictures on cell phone cameras or sported shirts with Bonds' No. 25.
Yes, this was a glorified pep rally in a swanky downtown San Francisco hotel featuring five ovations and two of those standing – for a star baseball player who didn't even stick around when his team paid tribute to him with a video presentation during the final home game of the year. Outside the ballroom where he spoke, Game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and Rockies at Fenway Park showed on a TV.
“I don't have fans in San Francisco – this is my family,” said Bonds, who used to bounce around the clubhouse at Candlestick Park as a boy while hanging out with his late father, Bobby, and Hall of Fame godfather Willie Mays.
When Taliaferro asked about Bonds' many splash-hit home runs, the slugger replied, “They call it McCovey Cove, but I've rewritten it a little bit.”
That part of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field arcade of the Giants' waterfront ballpark is named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
Bonds, who just completed his 22nd major league season, has 762 career homers. Taliaferro read select questions from members of an audience that included actor Danny Glover, one asking Bonds whether he would play for $5 million and bat fifth for San Francisco if that were an option for 2008.
“I told Peter Magowan, 'If I'm a part-time player, I'm still better than your full-time player, and it's a wise idea to keep me,'” Bonds said. “We still have time. Things might change.”
Bonds also said that if he were running the franchise, the Giants would have won a World Series by now. They fell five outs short in 2002, and one thing the slugger is still missing on his remarkable resume is a championship ring.
“They've been here since 1958,” Bonds said. “We'd win a World Series. I know the game so well. I can see talent. I know exactly what I'd be lookingfor.”
Is the club any closer to winning it all?
“I can't answer that. I don't work there anymore,” Bonds quipped, then howled in laughter. “My philosophy in sports is you don't break things up. You add to it.”
He soon added: “I'm rooting for the Giants. I'm not rooting against the Giants. This is my hometown.”
Where will he land for next season? Bonds doesn't know, but he doubts it's with the New York Yankees as a designated hitter. A move to the American League as a DH would be the logical next step for Bonds, whose balky knees and age have contributed to him being a step slow in left field lately.
“I would consider DHing for the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees have two DHs, so that dream would never happen,” Bonds said. “I'm out enjoying my life. I don't know at this point what my plans are in the future.”