The boy who loved Barry Bonds

It all started in a hotel room when I was 9. My dad and I were winding down the night and watching SportsCenter. Next to the head of one of the anchorpeople sat an image of Barry Bonds with a superimposed Giants cap on. Barry Bonds had just officially ended his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was going to get paid an astronomical amount of money to play with my favorite team.

A lot of time has passed since that night, and a lot of events have transpired, but for me, the biggest thing that has happened is that Barry Bonds singlehandedly made baseball my favorite sport, and the Giants my favorite team.

When you’re a child, and a dedicated sports fan, the sports take on much importance than when you’re an adult. You really don’t have too many things to worry about. When the 49ers or Giants would lose, it would render me inconsolable. Likewise, when they would win, it filled me an exceptional feeling of hope and pride. Everything in the world was going to be just fine.

Barry Bonds provided me with so many of those moments, that I feel forever indebted to him. For many years, I went to a private school 25 miles away from my house. My mom would drive me there, go to work at the housecleaning business she owned, and then come to the school and detail the preschool rooms, teacher’s lounge, and office, in exchange for having the tuition waived. One morning, she was riding in the passenger seat of her Plymouth workvan, while my stepdad was driving. At one point, she looked out of her window, and gave an “ok” sign. I looked out and saw none other than Barry Bonds, with his very young daughter, in his custom-built Porsche. My mom didn’t know who he was, she was just giving him kudos for the car. I immediately lost all of my sanity, and began waving and screaming my adoration. Barry saw the fluttering mass that was my tiny body, smiled, and gave me a thumbs up.

If Barry Bonds was, and had turned out to be just a decent player, I still would have remembered it forever. Barry Bonds didn’t turn out to be just a decent player. Barry Bonds turned out to be a deity in cleats, at least for me, and many, many Giants fans.

Obviously, when anyone mentions the name Barry Bonds now, the first thing that comes up is “steroids”. I went through a few phases during the whole Balco scandal. First was denial. “Barry Bonds is just a great baseball player, he’s never tested positive, and all of you are jealous that he’s ours!”

Second was acceptance. “Yeah, Barry probably did steroids, but he’s still a great baseball player, and all of you are jealous that he’s ours!”

Third was deliverance. A string of discoveries made it clear that steroid abuse was rampant in baseball allowed for some vindication. “Yeah, Barry might have done steroids, but so was most everyone else, but nobody else came close to what Barry accomplished. I’m forgetting something else. Oh, and all of you are jealous that he’s ours!”

Barry Bonds could always hit a baseball. He may have hit more baseballs further with the help of the cream and the clear, but Barry Bonds was quite simply an amazing player. His patience, eye, and ability to guess what was coming was mind-bendingly good. In a game where even the best hitters don’t reach base 60% of the time, Bonds was getting on base over half the time. Pitchers didn’t want any part of him, and when they did, they actually didn’t, because there was a good chance they were going to pay a large price.

Today, I thought about the reality that I’m never going to see Barry Bonds play baseball again, and it crushed me. It’s impossible to feel like you truly appreciated something once it’s gone.

The most painful part about it is that I’m positive I will never get to watch another player on the Giants that was as good, and as exciting as Barry Bonds. Every time he was to due up the next inning at home, the crowd would wait to go get their $8 beer. It was 3 or 4 must see events in every game. When I’d watch the Giants play road games, I loved to hear the cascade of boos coming from the stands. Those fans have hated Bonds, but at least he gave them melodrama. The next best thing from a loveable hero is a hated villain, because a hated villain brings out passion. Bonds had everything going for him to be an ultimate villain:

1)He was the best.

2)People thought he was a bad teammate, just an asshole person.

3)He was seen as a cheater.

I can’t think of a more complete villain. Yet, I have adored him from the time I saw him on SportsCenter with the digital Giants cap, to the time I publish this little piece of fluff.

Barry Bonds, you have given me more joy than anybody else, and for that, Sir, I salute you.

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