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Barry Bonds - Professional And Personal Moves

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While with the Pirates, Bonds met and married his wife, Sun, a cosmetologist from Sweden. The pair eloped in Las Vegas in February 1988. Their sun Nikolai, now a batboy for the Giants, was born in 1990 and their daughter Shikari a year later.

Chronology

1964 Born July 24 in Riverside, California
1978 Enters Serra Juniperro High School where he plays baseball, basketball, and football
1982 Turns down $75,000 offer from San Francisco Giants and opts to play baseball for Arizona State University
1985 Chosen to Sporting News college All-Star team
1985 Drafted by Pittsburgh Pirates and plays in minor leagues
1986 Called up to major leagues
1988 Marries first wife
1990 Son Nikolai is born
1990 Wins first league Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and first of eight Gold Glove awards
1991 Daughter Shikari is born
1992 Wins second MVP award
1992 Becomes a free agent and signs with San Francisco Giants, commanding a salary making him the highest-paid baseball player in history
1993 Wins third MVP award
1994 Divorces wife
1996 Surpasses 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases
1998 Marries Elizabeth Watson
2000 Daughter Aisha is born
2001 Hits 73 home runs in the season, breaking Mark McGwire's record, and hits 500th career home run
2001 Awarded unprecedented fourth MVP award
2002 Hits 600th home run and leads Giants to the World Series
2002 Fifth MVP award

Bonds was gearing up for changes in his professional life as well. Despite his talent, the Pirates opted to let Bonds walk when he became a free agent at the end of the 1991-1992 season, and he was signed by his home-town team, the San Francisco Giants. Although he had once told Sport magazine, "I want to play for any California team except the Giants because it's cold and they need a new stadium," Bonds claimed he was thrilled to be playing for the same team as his father and godfather, and he wore his father's number, 25. "I will look just like my dad out in the field, with the same genes, same body, but left-handed in left field with Willie's sign on the fence. That's generation to generation. It's almost scary. It's fun, I love it. I have never been more excited to play in a city in my entire life than I am now, because I see the whole picture," he told Sport in 1993.

The deal the Giants offered Bonds likely struck the player as equally exciting. He would be the highest-paid player in baseball, his father would be hired on as a hitting coach and Bonds would have his own private hotel suite on the road. Bonds gave the Giants their money's worth, batting .336, hitting forty-six home runs and accumulating 123 RBIs in his first year with the team, earning him a third MVP title. The following year the Giants seemed poised for a World Series bid when an August players' strike forced cancellation of the remainder of the season. While Bonds performed expertly the following season, becoming only the sixth player in major league history to hit 250 home runs and steal 300 bases in his career, his team finished last in the National League West. The team fared no better in 1996, when Bonds joined his father, godfather and Andre Dawson as one of only four major league players to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases. The Giants' luck took a turn in 1997, the same year the team secured an $11.45 million contract with Bonds. Ironically, despite his powerhouse abilities, Bonds was not able to contribute to the team as much as he would have liked, as pitchers began to regularly walk him. This practice became so routine over the years, that Bonds' children have begun to hold up signs reading, "Please pitch to my Daddy, Number 25." Still, Bonds contributed largely to the pennant victory, batting .344 in the team's last eleven games.

Critical as he was to the Giants' success that year, Bonds in no way developed a reputation as a team player—not among teammates, fans or the media. The separate hotel suite was only the beginning, and Bonds has since acquired his own public relations representative, masseur and weight trainer, as well as a private enclave in the Giants clubhouse where he keeps a recliner and a large-screen

Barry Bonds

television which nobody else can see. He does not stretch with the team, eat with the team, or pose for team pictures, and rarely sticks around for interviews. "Barry does a lot of questionable things. But you get used to it," former teammate Jeff Kent told Sports Illustrated. "You just hope he shows up for the game and performs. I've learned not to worry about it or think about it or analyze it. I was raised to be a team guy, and I am, but Barry's Barry."

As for the fans, Bonds has said he appreciates their support but once, when criticized for failing to move on a fly ball, he remarked to The Sporting News, "I don't care what (the fans) think. They ain't out here…. If you'rebetter than me, you can come out here and put my uniform on and do it." While Bonds has never tried to justify his attitude toward his teammates or fans, he did explain his testy relationship with the media to Sport. "It's sickening for you to throw stones at me and then want to take them back," he told a reporter. "I do it every year, that's what (motivates) me my whole year, for you to slap me across the face and then have to come back at the end of the year and kiss me and say, 'I'm sorry.'"

Awards and Accomplishments

1985 College All-Star team
1990 Named Baseball Writers' Association of America league MVP
1990 Named Sporting News National League and Major League Player of the Year
1990, 1992-98, 2000-01 All-Star Team
1990-94, 1996-98 Golden Glove Award
1990-94, 1996-97, 2000-02 Silver Slugger Award
1991 Sporting News National League Player of the Year
1992-93, 2001-02 Named Baseball Writers' Association of America league MVP
2001 Set MLB home run single season record with 73

Bonds has received negative publicity for his personal affairs as well. After he and Sun divorced in 1994, she sued him for half of his baseball earnings, despite having signed a prenuptial agreement. The case dragged on for years and was eventually settled in Bonds' favor by the California Supreme Court. In 1998, Bonds was married again, to Elizabeth Watson, and two years later the pair had a daughter, Aisha.

Still, Bonds continues to lead his team and break records on a regular basis. While berated by fans and the media for a lackluster performance in a wild card playoff bid in 1998 and hampered by an elbow injury in 1999, when the team missed the playoffs altogether, he maintained his enviable batting average. The team's poor overall performance underscored just how much they relied on Bonds, who returned to the team early following surgery in an effort to help salvage the season. The team made it to the playoffs the following year, but were eliminated early by the New York Mets.

The Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2001, but Bonds had a watershed season. That year, he hit seventy-three home runs, breaking Mark McGwire's season record of seventy and also hit his 500th career home run, arousing speculation that he will break Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755. For his efforts, Bonds became the first player in major league history to be named MVP four times and he was also voted Player of the Year for the second time by his peers. He also began to break down the wall between himself and the fans, tearfully thanking them for their support in a post-game ceremony after his record-breaking seventy-first home run. Still, Bonds' reputation preceded him. When he became a free agent at the end of the season, not a single team expressed interest.

In 2002, with a .370 average, Bonds became the Giants' first batting champion since Willie Mays in 1954. On August 9, he hit his 600th home run—a feat realized by only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth before him and, in the postseason he finally realized his dream of playing in a World Series. The Giants eventually lost to the Anaheim Angels in a seven-game series. Still, Bonds was named league MVP for an astounding fifth time. While besting Hank Aaron's home run record would be a phenomenal achievement, Bonds indicated mid-season that the days left to reach that goal are numbered. "At the end of this contract, I'll be 42 and my kids will be in high school," he told Ebony. "It doesn't matter how close I am to Hank's record, when this contract ends, it's over! You get me for four more years, and after that, this old guy is going home."

Career Statistics

Yr Team Avg GP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB E
PIT: Pittsburgh Pirates; SF: San Francisco Giants.
1986 PIT .223 113 413 72 92 16 48 65 102 36 5
1987 PIT .261 150 551 99 144 25 59 54 88 32 5
1988 PIT .283 144 538 97 152 24 58 72 82 17 6
1989 PIT .248 159 580 96 144 19 58 93 93 32 6
1990 PIT .301 151 519 104 156 33 114 93 83 52 6
1991 PIT .292 153 510 95 149 25 116 107 73 43 3
1992 PIT .311 140 473 109 147 34 103 127 69 39 3
1993 SF .336 159 539 129 181 46 123 126 79 29 5
1994 SF .312 112 391 89 122 37 81 74 43 29 3
1995 SF .294 144 506 109 149 33 104 120 83 31 6
1996 SF .308 158 517 122 159 42 129 151 76 40 6
1997 SF .291 159 532 123 155 40 101 145 87 37 5
1998 SF .303 156 552 120 167 37 122 130 92 28 5
1999 SF .262 102 355 91 93 34 83 73 62 15 3
2000 SF .306 143 480 129 147 49 106 117 77 11 3
2001 SF .328 153 476 129 156 73 137 177 93 13 6
2002 SF .370 143 403 117 149 46 110 198 47 9 8
TOTAL .295 2439 8335 1830 2462 613 1652 1922 1329 493 84
Barry Bonds - Chronology [next] [back] Barry Bonds - Big League Numbers, Big League Attitude

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