Barry Bonds is regarded as one of the best baseball players of the modern era but remains one of its most polarizing figures as well. The San Francisco Giants slugger broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record on this day in 2007.
Bonds, a regarded “five-tool” player and left fielder for the Giants, hit the record-breaking ball off Washington Nationals pitcher and current analyst Mike Bacsik during a contest at AT&T Park. The moment was highly anticipated among baseball fans, but carried a shadow of shame of what the game had become.
Major League Baseball was embroiled at the time in a series of ongoing scandals involving BALCO and widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs. Coupled with the curious uptick in home runs from other sluggers such as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, Bonds’ historic moment has been diminished by speculation.
Despite the record, 2007 would mark the end of Bonds’ career after teams seemingly decided not to deal with the infamously surly and standoffish player. Further, Bonds was at the center of a controversial perjury case involving his appearance during a grand jury summons in 2003 which landed him a conviction of obstruction of justice in 2011. In 2015, the conviction was overturned in Bonds’ favor after years of legal wrangling.
Bonds did return to baseball and currently serves as an assistant to the Giants’ CEO. He has not been named to any of the Baseball Hall of Fame ballots in his first five years of eligibility nor has his number been retired by the Giants or his first team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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