Newsom backs Bonds, calls feat 'extraordinary'

While some baseball lovers may have mixed feelings about Barry Bonds’ record home run chase due to reports that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he's an unequivocal fan.

“There's some responsibility for people in positions where they're successful and people look up to them, I'm not naive to that,” Newsom said Friday. “But it's a game. And you've got one of the greatest athletes — that to me is incontrovertible — that's ever walked on a baseball field, doing something that no other player in the history of the game has ever done, or is about to. And I think that's an extraordinary thing.”

After Bonds hit two homers in Chicago on Thursday, bringing his career home run total to within two of Hank Aaron's all time mark of 755, Newsom had a banner hung from his office balcony at City Hall emblazoned with “753.”

“We've got three other flags that are waiting to be put up, and I look forward to putting up 756,” Newsom said. “But not until next week, because I want to make sure it happens in San Francisco.” The Giants are on the road, with games in Milwaukee and Atlanta coming up. Newsom said he's trying to rearrange his schedule in order to attend the Giants games in San Francisco next week.

“It's incredible for The City,” said Newsom of Bonds’ impact. “As a fan, but also as someone who wants to promote San Francisco and this region, the identity on every newscast [is]: Barry Bonds, San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco.”

The Giants are planning to hold a celebratory tribute to Bonds in the event that he breaks the record, said Staci Slaughter, vice president of communications for the team. Slaughter said it would likely be held in the ballpark, as part of a game, but that final decisions on the event had not been made.

Newsom would not say if The City planned to throw Bonds a parade, saying that he promised the Giants not to share celebration plans “to create a little suspense about what this city or the Giants are intending to do.”

beslinger@examiner.com  

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