Fans flock to ballpark for Bonds

The day after enduring a 13-inning game on his 43rd birthday, Giants slugger Barry Bonds sat out the start of Wednesday night’s baseball game — but more than ever, fans are behind his pursuit of one of sport’s all-time records.

Since the Giants returned from a trip during which Bonds ripped two home runs at Wrigley Field on July 19 — bringing his career total to 753, two shy of Hank Aaron’s 755 — fans have risen to the occasion at AT&T Park, trying to will the ball into McCovey Cove.

Crowds during the homestand so far have roared with approval when the left fielder emerges from the dugout. He’s also booed lustily when a pitcher threatens to walk the slugger or an umpire dares to call a strike against him.

Fans are so tuned in to Bonds instead of the game that they begin filing out of the stadium after what appears to be his last at-bat, even if it’s in the middle of an inning during a close game.

On Wednesday afternoon, a lively crowd at an ESPN-hosted town hall meeting on Bonds and his impact on baseball staunchly booed and catcalled any commentator on the panel that spoke ill of their slugger.

Thirteen-year-old Tory Hereford, who lives just a long toss from AT&T Park, said Bonds should take his time and relax and let the record come when it does, even if it was next year.

“Have funwith it,” Hereford said, adding that he thought Bonds looked stressed and was not having fun with the game. “You want him to be happy when he hits a homer.”

Tickets have sold quickly with Bonds ever so close to the record. At Monday’s game, 42,679 fans attended; on Tuesday, 43,072 fans came through the gates, according to the Giants. While both counts are shy of the 43,965 in attendance for the All-Star Game on June 10, tickets sales are reaching a fever pitch, Giants officials said.

“Through the rest of the week, we mostly have standing-room-only left,” Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said. “We expect to be sold out through the weekend.”

dsmith@examiner.com


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