Holder of baseball's single-season home run record, with 73 in 2001, breaking Mark McGwire's 1998 mark of 70. The record-breaking 71st home run was on October 5, 2001 in the first inning, against the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Chan Ho Park.
Bonds' 2001 season was one of the greatest individual offensive seasons in baseball history.
In addition to the home run mark, Bonds also set the all-time single-season walks record (with 177; Babe Ruth held the previous record with 170 in 1923), and the single-season slugging percentage record (with .863, again erasing the record of Ruth, who slugged .847 in 1921). Previously, no one other than Ruth had ever slugged better than .800.
Bonds' on-base percentage of .515 was the first better than .500 since 1957 (Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle).
Bonds' pursuit of the HR record had come to overshadow his surefire Hall of Fame career, which may now be in jeopardy due to his late 2007 indictment by a federal grand jury on charges of purgery and obstruction of justice; if convicted on all counts, he could face up to 30 years in prison, thus drawing to a close his baseball career.
Bonds (DOB: July 24, 1964; Riverside, CA
) was drafted in the second round of Major League Baseball
's free-agent draft in 1982 by the San Francisco Giants
, but he did not sign. After attending college at Arizona State University
, Bonds was taken in the 1st round (6th overall) in 1985 by the Pittsburgh Pirates
. He would spend the next 7 seasons (1986-1992) in Pittsburgh, winning 2 National League MVP
awards (1990, 1992).
He left Pittsburgh as a free-agent and ended up with the Giants, for whom he has played since. His first season in San Francisco led to his 3rd MVP award. He also led the league in home runs (with 46) and runs batted in (with 123), both for the first time.
Bonds has been one of the most well-rounded players in history. He's closing in on 500 stolen bases (484, at the time of this writeup) and 600 home runs (562, as of now). In 1998, he became the only player in history to have 400 of each in his career. Now the 500-500 club is likely as well.
In addition, Bonds has been one of the best defensive left fielders in history, winning 8 Gold Glove Awards for his defense.
His postseason struggles (mentioned in previous writeup) have been well-chronicled. Bonds has appeared in 5 playoff series. His teams have lost all 5. Still, Bonds' success has helped carry those teams to the playoffs in the first place.
Throughout his career, Bonds has not been very media-friendly, nor fan-friendly; some would say that he even affects a rather surly attitude towards both. In the 1996 Wesley Snipes film "The Fan", Snipes' portrayal of a superstar Giants player is fairly clearly supposed to be Bonds (with his large free-agent contract, jewelry, and attitude).
Now, in 2001, Bonds has passed McGwire's mark. Most people were split on whether they want Bonds to pass McGwire. McGwire's been more fan and media friendly throughout his career, and also is viewed as more of a pure home run hitter. Meanwhile, Bonds has had "an attitude," and has never been known for his power alone (perhaps, he's been too good overall, such that his power is a surprise to some. Still, he's hit 30 or more home runs in each of the last 10 seasons). While not as prevalent as in the '70s when Hank Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth's mark, race is an issue as well to some. Bonds is black; McGwire white.
To Bonds' credit, he's made a concerted effort to be more accessible to the media, and to the fans. He's smiled more. He's shown emotion, and joy. Whether this is calculated or natural is unknown, but regardless, Bonds has won alot of people over this year.
Even before the home run record, Barry Bonds has already established himself as one of the greatest baseball players in history. That's a strong statement, but the numbers back it up. His postseason failures are certainly a black mark, but his career isn't over yet. For years, quarterback John Elway was thought of similarly, but won two Super Bowls very late in his career. Bonds can conceivably attain postseason success similarly. That would truly cement his place in baseball history as an all-time great.