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On This Date in Sports August 7, 2007

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants becomes baseball’s All-Time home run king, hitting his 756th home run off Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park. Hank Aaron who held the record is shown on the video board issuing congratulations to Bonds, who would hit six more home runs to finish his career with 762 home runs. Despite the milestone home run, the Giants lose the game to the Nats 8-6.

The son of an All-Star, Barry Bonds was born to play baseball on July 24, 1964. His father Bobby Bonds was a three-time All-Star in a 14-year career with the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs retiring after the 1981 season. The senior Bonds, was the first player in baseball history to have more than one 30-30 season (home runs and stolen bases), doing it five times. Barry Bonds was clearly following in his father’s footsteps when he was drafted in the second round of the 1982 draft by the Giants after excelling at high school in neighboring San Mateo. However, he could not come to terms on a contract and decided to play college baseball at Arizona State. Barry Bonds continued to shine on the diamond and after being named All-American and leading the Sun Devils to the College World Series, he was taken with the second overall pick in the 1985 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Barry Bonds would spend less than a year in the minors, making his debut with the Pirates on May 30, 1986. Four days later he hit his first career home run against Craig McMurtry of the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium, the same place where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record in 1974. Bonds his 16 home runs that first season as he quickly became a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, helping the Pirates rise after a couple of down years. In 1990, Bonds won his first MVP award leading the Pirates to an Eastern Division Championship, hitting .301 with 114 RBI as he had his first 30-30 season with 33 home runs and 52 stolen bases. Barry would win the MVP again in 1992 after finishing a close second behind the Braves Terry Pendleton in 1991. The Pirates would win the division all three season, with Barry posting two 30-30 seasons, but they could not repeat the success in the playoffs as they failed to make it past the NLCS, losing to the Cincinnati Reds in 1990 and the Braves the next two years.

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Following his second MVP in Pittsburgh, Barry Bonds came home then record six-year deal worth $43.75 million to play for the San Francisco Giants. He would spend the remainder of his career thrilling fans in San Francisco. Bonds would have his best year to date in 1993, winning a third MVP award as he hit .336, with a league leading 46 home runs and 123 RBI. Bonds quickly became the face of a baseball renaissance. As he was an All-Star every year during his first six seasons with the Giants. In 1996, Barry Bonds did the one thing his father never did and that was hit 42 home runs and steal 40 bases for baseball’s second ever 40-40 season. Bobby Bonds had 39 home runs and 43 RBI in 1973 missing by one dinger.

Widely regarded as one of baseball’s best players Barry Bonds glowered at the great home run chase of 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, whom he knew were using steroids. According to the book “Game of Shadows” Bonds contacted a local lab in San Francisco, figuring if those players can get away with using Performance Enhancing Drugs, so could he. In 1999, despite playing just 102 games Barry Bonds hit 34 homers. A year later he had a career high 49 home runs to set the stage for his record season. Just three years after McGwire established the single season record with 70 home runs, and now juiced Barry Bonds smashed 73 home runs, winning a record fourth MVP. Barry Bonds would go on to win the MVP four straight seasons, to bring his record up to seven. Along the way, he became baseball’s most dangerous hitter as he hit at least 45 home runs every season while leading the league in walks with pitchers fearful to throw him a fat pitch.

Injuries limited Bonds to 14 games in 2005, as baseball began to closely examine the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. Bonds, long suspected of PED use was exposed when “Game of Shadows” was released in 2006. As he reached the final year of his contract, Barry Bonds was baseball’s most divisive star, beloved at AT&T Park and hated everywhere else. When he tied Hank Aaron’s record in San Diego on August 4th he was booed vociferously. Stepping to the plate in the in the fifth inning of a 4-4 game against Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, Barry Bonds received a thunderous ovation when he set the record at home. Following the home run, a ten-minute tribute was played at AT&T Park, with Aaron being among those paying tribute to the new home run king.

Barry Bonds career would end after the 2007 season, he would hit six home runs after breaking Hank Aaron’s record retiring with 762 home runs for the new all-time record. However, he has yet to receive his call from Cooperstown as voters have frozen out the players who have been associated with using Performance Enhancing Drugs, despite Bonds proving long before he used anything he was one of baseball’s best players.