It came just as the chants of “Bar-ry” had reached a crescendo. After his oh-so-familiar swing, Barry Bonds stood with his arms raised at home plate while watching it disappear over the wall and into history.
At 8:51 p.m. Tuesday at AT&T Park, Hank Aaron’s 33-year reign over baseball’s most hallowed record officially ended. Bonds is the new king, and he clapped his hands and began a home run trot he has now made a record 756 times in a major-league uniform, serenaded by a raucous, sellout crowd of 43,154 and setting off a fireworks display over McCovey Cove.
“Thank you very much,” the Giants’ slugger said to the fans and his teammates following the blast. “You’ve given me all the support in the world and I’ll never forget it.”
The record-setter came with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning on a 3-2 pitch from Washington Nationals left-hander Mike Bacsik and landed over the Bank of America sign in right-center field, an estimated 435 feet from home plate. Upon completing his jog around the bases, Bonds was hugged at home plate by son Nikolai and mobbed by his teammates. The left fielder was soon joined by mom Pat, wife Liz and daughters Shikari and Aisha before trotting down toward the Giants’ dugout where he embraced godfather Willie Mays. The pair looked up to the scoreboard where a taped message from Aaron — whose absence from the chase had been a source of much conversation — was broadcast.
“Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years,” Aaron said. “I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement.”
The game was stopped for 10 minutes for the ceremony as the home crowd loudly cheered a moment that will live forever in baseball history.
The ball was caught by Matt Murphy, a 22-year-old Queens, N.Y., native in San Francisco on a layover on his way to Australia.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who was not in attendance, did issue a statement.
“I congratulate Barry Bonds for establishing a new, career home run record. Barry’s achievement is noteworthy and remarkable,” Selig said. “While the issues which have swirled around this record will continue to work themselves toward resolution, today is a day for congratulations on a truly remarkable achievement.”
Read the related story about what Bonds' career would have been like at Candlestick, and add your voice to the examiNation SF question of the day, about the impact of setting the home run record in San Francisco.
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