August 4, 2007
SAN DIEGO (cbssportsline.com/AP) -- With a short swing, a half stare and an emphatic clap of his hands, Barry Bonds rounded the bases. After so many days and so many tries, he had finally caught Hammerin' Hank.
"The hard part is over right now," Bonds said after the game.
High above the field in a private box, baseball commissioner Bud Selig was a reluctant witness to history. Choosing to overlook the steroid allegations that have dogged the San Francisco slugger, Selig watched Bonds tie Hank Aaron's home run record -- his mouth agape, hands stuffed in pockets and nary a cheer on his lips.
No. 755 was a strong shot for all the doubters, an opposite-field drive of 382 feet to left-center, moving Bonds within one swing of having baseball's pinnacle of power all to himself. It came on a 2-1, 91 mph fastball.
And it was a long time coming.
"This is the hardest thing I've had to do in my entire career," he said. "I had rashes on my head, I felt like I was getting sick at times."
Bonds said he would not start Sunday, which would give him a chance to break the record at home beginning Monday night.
The Padres won 3-2 in 12 innings.
Khalil Greene lined a bases-loaded single up the middle in the 12th inning off loser Randy Messenger (1-4), the second straight extra-inning game for the teams.
The two-time defending NL West champion Padres beat their former manager Bruce Bochy and San Francisco for the fourth straight time. Cla Meredith (4-5) pitched the 12th for the win.
San Diego's Scott Hairston homered for the third time in two games, hitting a leadoff shot in the bottom of the first. Bonds then started the top of the second with a drive to left-center to tie Hammerin' Hank after trying since July 27. Bonds left the game early for the fifth straight night.
It had been eight days and 28 plate appearances since Bonds hit his 754th home run, and he came out for early batting practice Saturday, hoping to break his slump. He did it quickly, leading off the second inning.
"No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable," Selig said in a statement.
Selig said either he or a representative would attend the Giants' next few games "out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty."
Bonds said he hadn't spoken to Selig, but welcomed him anytime.
Aaron was not in attendance. The Hall of Famer had previously said he would not follow the chase in person.
"We as baseball players, especially as African-American ballplayers, have so much respect for Hank Aaron and all our fellow African-American athletes as well. They have paved the road for what we're doing now," Bonds said.
Bonds drew a mixed reaction from the crowd at Petco Park after he homered off Clay Hensley. Several fans held up asterisk signs and the San Francisco slugger was booed as he headed to left field at the end of the inning.
"I want to thank the fans. They have been outstanding," Bonds said. "It's been a fun ride. I really appreciate the way San Diego handled it and the way their fans handled it."
Bonds walked his next three times up and left the game in the eighth for a pinch-runner. He raised his helmet with his left hand, then his right, and drew a standing ovation from many fans who chanted his name.
Bonds hit the tying homer off a former Giants draft pick who was suspended in 2005 for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.
"I don't think we're here to discuss those matters," Bonds said.
Earlier in the day, Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run. Like Bonds, Rodriguez took advantage of his first opportunity of the game, connecting at Yankee Stadium.
Both Bonds and Rodriguez gave their batting helmets to the Hall of Fame.
Bonds' milestone shot clunked off an advertising sign on the facade and fell into the navy blue bleachers below -- right under the main scoreboard featuring a giant photo of the smiling slugger.
A fan sitting in that area threw a ball onto the field, but that was not the historic one. Instead, the prized souvenir wound up in the hands of 33-year-old Adam Hughes of La Jolla, and he was whisked to a secure area so the specially marked ball could be authenticated.
Bonds walked a half-dozen steps after connecting, clapped his hands and rounded the bases with no hint of a smile.
After Bonds crossed the plate, he lifted his batboy son, Nikolai, and carried him several steps in an embrace.
The 43-year-old star got a hug from teammate Ryan Klesko, and Bonds slowly walked through a greeting line of other Giants. Moments later, he walked over to the field-level seats and kissed 8-year-old daughter Aisha and wife, Liz, through the screen.
Bonds then lifted his cap before going to the far end of the dugout and hugging Sue Burns, the wife of late Giants ownership partner Harmon Burns.
The home run came at 7:29 p.m. PT as much of the country was getting ready to head to bed. By the time Bonds was supposed to do postgame interviews, most fans were sure to be asleep.
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