Friday, August 10, 2007

A Brush with Bonds, History

Whatever you think of Barry Bond's master stroke Tuesday evening, there are three things that are surely non-contentious:

  1. Barry Bonds is a contentious character.
  2. Barry Bonds is a great ball player.
  3. Barry Bonds hit is 756th Major League home run on Tuesday August 7th, 2007.

Let me add a forth non-continuous point: Scott (aka gamedayScott) and myself (aka gamedayGeorge) were at the game! While neither of us were fortunate enough to catch the home run ball, we did catch the spectacle live and in the flesh.

Our evening at the ballpark started with a trip on the CalTrain and a stop at the pre-game haunt - the 21st Amendment. Its worth noting that whether or not it can be attributed to Mark Twain, the quote "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" couldn't have been truer on this August evening. According to MLB.com the game time temperature was 62 degrees, and I can assure you that it dropped from there - I've never seen so many coats, scarfs and hats in the summer south of the 49th. That said, the action in the ballpark was just warming up.

We were treated to two quick Bonds at bats early in the game, and the way he was hitting the ball it was clear that something was in the air (water?) on Tuesday evening. After tearing the cover off a double in his first at bat (which he scored on from second) he took another step towards the cycle with a single in his second at bat. But while the potential cycle will be just a footnote, the outcome of his third at bat in the fifth was - as they say - history.

A few things of note.

  • Each time Bonds came to the plate, you'd swear that all of America (and a quarter of Japan) was using flash photography at the ballpark. There were more strobes then Studio 54 each time the guy came to the plate - I'm amazed he could concentrate on anything. (Note to camera users - the flash is generally not effective outside the 10 foot range.)
  • The immediate post-home run celebration put on by the Giant's was classy, and in the midst of the melee, they deployed banners with the next 10 top home run hitters in Major League History under the facing of the upper deck and fired off streamers over the fans and fireworks over San Francisco Bay. All that was needed to complete the scene was Mardi Gras beads...
  • The cheering only really subsided for one moment during the whole post-home run ceremony and that's when Aaron spoke via the video scoreboard - then it was respectfully quiet. Other then that, Bonds was speaking to the roar of the crowd. It appeared as though Willie Mays wanted to get a couple of words in as well - based on his enthusiastic reaching for the mic - but the house seemed content to let the crowd roar on instead.
  • I watched the section where the ball landed in right center for a good half hour after the game resumed, and to me it looked like a mosh pit was raging well after the guy who caught the ball (Matt Murphy) was carried out by the cops. Not sure what they were raging about, but I was amazed to watch the post-game video and see that no one out there seemed to have a ball glove on. And it looked like somebody who had a clean shot at it bobbled it off their hands and into the scrum... better luck "next time"?!?
  • While Bonds' home run put the Giant's ahead 5-4, they did go onto lose the game 8-6 in case you didn't notice. That other Barry in SF - Zito - was on the mound, and was looking like an ace who was missing his 'out' pitch as his shaky season on the other side of the bay continues. He went through spurts of excellence, followed by floods of base runners, and I'm sure was left in quiet contemplation in the post-game clubhouse to wonder how me might re-capture some of his brilliance.

Perhaps the most remarkable element of the experience for me was that I was there at all. You see, like the guy who caught the ball, I was just in San Francisco for one night and that's the only Giant's game I'll see this season and possibly next for that matter. The next evening when I was at the airport on my way out of town, I had a chat with the TV camera people who had assembled at the airport to see if they could catch Matt Murphy on his way to Australia.

One of the assembled camera men joked that the only difference between me and my quiet passage through the airport, and Matt Murphy and his assembled media scrum was that one ball, that one lucky shot. That Murphy's was the next hand after Mike Bacsik's to get a firm grip on that baseball, and the cool half mil that might come with it. I never did see Murphy swing through the airport - but I wouldn't be able to pick the guy out of a police lineup.

Alas, I'm happy with my place in history. Time to start lining up a quick swing through the Bronx for the summer of 2013 to see if I can catch the next one...

1 comment:

billalex said...

Cool story! Obviously a night you will never forget.