SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds outdid his godfather, and he has just two more hitters to chase.
Bonds hit his 661st homer Tuesday night, passing Willie Mays to
take sole possession of third place on baseball's career list.
In the seventh inning, Bonds hit a 1-2 pitch from Milwaukee
right-hander Ben Ford over the right-field arcade and into McCovey
Cove, reaching the water for the second straight day. The San
Francisco slugger hit his 660th on Monday to nearly the same spot.
Only Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron still loom above Bonds. If Bonds
maintains his unbelievable pace of the past four seasons, he could
pass Ruth's 714 homers early next season.
Bonds has said he can't imagine passing Aaron, who hit 755
homers. But there seems to be nothing Bonds can't do.
"I've never seen a better player in my life," said former
Giants third baseman Matt Williams, who threw out the first pitch
at Tuesday night's game. "I don't think anybody changes the course
of a game like he does."
Bonds, who will turn 40 in July, hit 213 homers in the previous
four seasons, including a major league-record 73 in 2001.
He hit his 659th on opening day in Houston -- but as he usually
does, Bonds waited until returning home to San Francisco to hit his
most historic homers.
Bonds didn't really celebrate his 661st, calmly dropping his bat
and circling the bases as the sellout crowd stood and roared. After
touching home plate, he pointed into the stands at his family.
Bonds took a short curtain call, and he got yet another standing
ovation when he took the field for the eighth inning.
It was Bonds' 29th homer into McCovey Cove, where the ball
was retrieved by Larry Ellison, the same kayaker who got Bonds' 660th
and later gave it back to the slugger.
The park didn't have quite the same buzz as it did Monday night,
when Bonds smashed a fifth-inning homer into McCovey Cove. The
media contingent was roughly halved, and sports legends Wayne Gretzky and Bill Russell weren't in attendance, as they were Monday
night to celebrate Bonds' sixth straight MVP award.
Bonds' latest statistical marvel has been accomplished under the
shadow of steroids and the criminal investigation surrounding his
personal trainer. Even Williams, Bonds' teammate in San Francisco
for three seasons, believes the steroids controversy has given
baseball "a black eye."
"I know him as a man. Not many people do," Williams said. "If
it's proven, then I think it's going to put a black mark on
baseball. Will I think any less of him? No. You can be as strong as
you want to be. You still have to have that proper technique. That
can't be taken away."
Bonds' transformation from a five-tools leadoff hitter to his
generation's best power hitter has pleased manager Felipe Alou, who
saw a similar change in the other greats atop the homers list.
"He's doing what most guys did," Alou said. "He used to steal
bases. He's stopped running bases. That's what Hank did. There
comes a time when age (catches up), and you've got to do one thing:
hit the ball out of the ballpark."