Barry Lamar Bonds made his debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 30, 1986, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On that day he went hitless in 5 at-bats. However, what would follow would be the beginnings of what should have been a Hall of Fame career.
Bonds would play 7 seasons in Pittsburgh winning 2 MVP awards in 1990 & 1992. Arguably he should have won 3 straight MVP awards but as the stories get retold Bonds was not a popular player amongst the writers and most players and thus the 1991 MVP award he was not awarded. So enter the offseason of 1992 Barry Bonds decides on a homecoming of sorts and signs with the San Francisco Giants. And coming off of 3 straight MVP caliber seasons he is received with open arms as the best player on the planet at that point.
Art of Baseball Mimics Life
Bonds would go on to have an unprecedented run of dominance yet his name was not mentioned among the greats of the day. Bonds would play second fiddle to lesser players and would be vilified because of his aversion to “chumming” it up with media members. Barry witnessed his father Bobby Bonds struggle and suffer through racism and prejudice and segregation while trying to make a living and support his family playing the game of baseball. This lead to Barry’s cold shoulder approach to the media.
Now the part of Bonds story that that is often told and retold is about the suspected and implied use of steroids. Bonds never failed a test during the testing era it. Despite the physical change that his body underwent. (The Laracuente Ledger covered the steroids in a previous article “Removing Steroids From the Game.”)Barry was the most feared hitter in all of baseball at this time. He set records upon records throughout this time period as well. Records like home runs, both single season and career, walks in a single season and even intentional walks for a season. The most famous came when he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
Changing the Narrative
However, because of the implied guilt, that was never proven or admitted to Bonds was ultimately forced out of baseball. Barry played his last season in 2007. And was shunned outside of San Francisco. Until he was given a chance as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. And while the Marlins did not find much success, Bonds did. As baseball seemed to soften it’s opposition to Bonds. Barry likewise softened his opposition to the media as part of his duties as hitting coach.
Bonds is edging closer to inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Some believe he is worthy of such an honor. And others disagree, but what cannot be disagreed about is the talent. Barry Bonds was one of baseball’s greatest players. Yet also one of it’s greatest controversies.