The San Francisco Giants retired Barry Bonds No. 25 in an emotional ceremony Saturday night. The event, which was highlighted by memorable speeches from Bonds himself and from his godfather, Willie Mays, seemed to serve as the closure Bonds has long sought.
At the same time, it allowed Bonds the opportunity to speak openly and get a few things off his chest. Among the things weighing heaviest on him, apparently, was getting proper credit for making AT&T Park a reality.
Barry Bonds considers the existence of AT&T Park a bigger tribute to him than the retired number. He explained why: pic.twitter.com/360sHQogdn
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 12, 2018
Yankee Stadium was often referred to as “The House That Babe Ruth Built” because Ruth was the attraction that made Yankees baseball can’t miss. Well, Bonds clearly thinks AT&T Park is the house he built for the same reasons.
The ballpark opened in 2000, which was right in the middle of Bonds incredible 15-year run in San Francisco. That means he probably has a point. Still, it seems like something he probably could have kept to himself for another day.
Regardless, Bonds was clearly thrilled to author a more memorable ending to his Giants tenure. Bonds’ playing career ended unceremoniously following the 2007 season amid PED allegations, which prevented him from going out on his own terms. On Saturday, Bonds not only got to come home and say his thank yous in front of an adoring audience. He got to take his position in left field for what we imagine will be one final time while wearing the Giants No. 25.
— MLB (@MLB) August 12, 2018
The cool moment was the perfect way to cap off a memorable ceremony and tumultuous decade that finally led Bonds and the Giants back together.
Fractured relationship with Giants
Bonds and the Giants definitely took the scenic route to get here.
Though Bonds never failed a PED test, the Giants were ready to move on from all the steroid-related controversy that surrounded him following the 2007 season.
On Aug. 7 of that season, Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record with No. 756. He went on to finish his 22nd season with 762 career homers, but was never considered to be brought back by San Francisco despite his desire to continue playing. The other 29 teams followed suit, leaving Bonds on the outside looking in.
In 2015, Bonds sued the league for collusion. His exit bothered him for a long time. It may bother him still. Perhaps he’s only gotten better at hiding it. Regardless, the two sides have taken the necessary steps to heal a once fruitful relationship.
In 2014, the Giants first extended an olive branch by inviting him to throw out the first pitch before Game 4 of the World Series. That effectively ended Bonds exile from the team and from baseball in general. In January 2017, Bonds finally rejoined the Giants as a special adviser to CEO Larry Baer.
Bonds briefly served as Miami Marlins hitting coach during the 2016 season, but the Giants reunion is what baseball was waiting for. This ceremony, specifically, is what Giants fans were waiting for. Bonds was already back in San Francisco, but Saturday truly closed an important chapter in his story, while allowing him to supplement his legacy.
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