Sportswriters snubbed him in favor of Ken Griffey Jr., as the Player of the 1990s, but that had more to do with image than talent. Barry Lamar Bonds was the best player of the decade, and entering the new century he was still the best player in the game, blasting an amazing 73 homers in 2001. His combination of power and speed have been matched only by his godfather, Willie Mays. As he continued to pile up incredible numbers and win seven MVP Awards, allegations of steroid use hounded him as he approached the all-time home run record. | Full bio ⇓
Quotes About Bonds
"I believe that there is certainly evidence. Is it conclusive? Has he admitted anything? You know it's a little bit like Pete Rose. The evidence that Pete Rose bet on baseball was enormous; Pete denied it. And people all over this country said, 'Well, you know it's not great evidence, we really don't know, we'd give Pete the benefit of the doubt.' The whole thing is silly - Pete Rose bet on baseball. I think Barry Bonds took steroids. Enough's enough." â€” former commissioner Fay Vincent on Barry Bonds, May 2007
"We had a great relationship. We had a tremendous understanding and mutual respect for each other. I like him. I've seen a lot of good things from him, and I've seen him rub a lot of people the wrong way. But he played every day for me and he busted his tail. What else can you ask of a player?" manager Jim leyland on Barry Bonds, whom he managed in Pittsburgh
Quotes From Bonds
"I'm drained. I'm mentally and emotionally drained. I get so tired of it it's ridiculous. But I'm not going to allow anyone to bring me down. They can try and destroy me, whatever they want to try and do. But they can't do anything else. They can't hurt me any more than they've already hurt me. They can't hurt my family any more than they've already hurt my family. Those things have already been done. I just want to play ball. That's it." ï¿½ in April 2006, from his new reality TV show
"There are some things I can't understand right now - the balls I used to line off the wall are lining out (of the park). I can't tell you why. Call God. Ask Him. It's like, 'Wow.' I can't understand it, either. I try to figure it out, and I can't figure it out." ï¿½ Bonds, on his home run outburst, quoted in Baseball Weekly, May 21, 2001.
Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-1992)
San Francisco Giants (1993-2005)
Minor League Experience
Graduated from Serra (San Mateo, California) High School in 1982... starred in baseball, basketball and football at Serra, school that has also produced Lynn Swann, Jim Fregosi and Gregg Jefferies... hit .404 over three varsity seasons, including .467 average as prep All-America his senior year... played three years for Arizona State University, hitting career .347 with 45 home runs and 175 RBI... named All-Pac 10 all three years, chosen to The Sporting News All-America Team as junior in 1985... tied NCAA record with seven consecutive hits in College World Series as sophomore... was named to the All-Time College World Series Team in 1996.
Barry Bonds ranks #4 among the Top 50 all-time at LF. Rankings ⇒
Best Season: 2001
Bonds broke Babe Ruth's 81-year old slugging record; first man in 44 years to break the .500 mark in OBP; broke McGwire's home run mark; shattered Ruth's 78-year old walks record; his 107 extra-base hits were surpassed only by Ruth and Gehrig; drove in 137 runs; was successful in 13 of 16 steal attempts; batted .328; had 411 total bases. Probably the best offensive season in baseball history.
Brady Anderson, Barry Bonds and Ryne Sandberg are the only players to have both a 40-homer and 50-stolen base season in their careers.
Bonds followed his father (Bobby) into the professional baseball ranks. He played collegiate ball at Arizona State, setting several slugging records. It was apparent early on that Barry was a better all-around hitter than his father - and certainly more patient. He was also blessed with his father's speed and power.
Drafted originally by the Giants in 1982 out of high school, Bonds opted for college and was selected by the Pirates upon graduation. He spent little time in the minors before debuting with the Bucs on May 30, 1986. He settled in as the team's starting center fielder, playing in 113 games as a rookie. He hit for a poor average (.223), but showed flashes of speed (36 steals) and power (16 home runs).
In 1987 Bonds began the season in center, but soon Andy Van Slyke pushed Barry to left field, where he has played since. Bonds continued to improve, scoring 99 runs with 35 doubles and 25 homers, while his average climbed to .261. By 1990 Bonds was an All-Star and the Pirates were in the playoffs. Barry won his first MVP behind startling power and speed numbers. He slugged a league-leading .565 with 33 homers and 114 RBI. He scored 104 runs, batted .301, and swiped 52 bases.
Two years later Bonds won his second MVP despite missing three weeks to injuries. He pushed his career-highs in total bases, slugging (NL best .624), average (.311), walks (NL leading 127), runs (NL high 109), and OBP (NL leading .461). He also stole 39 bases and led the Pirates to their third straight NL East title. His power and on-base numbers were Ted Williams-like. In conjunction with his speed and leather (eight Gold Gloves), Bonds is a rare animal.
In the off-season of 1992 Bonds was a free agent, and demanded a huge salary. The Giants signed him to a long-term deal, brining him home to California, and to the franchise that both Mays and Bonds had starred for.
In his first season with the Giants, Bonds was at his best. He got off to a hot start and never let up. At the end of the campaign he had set personal bests in every offensive category except triples and steals. He led in two of the three triple crown categories - homers (46), and RBI (123). His slugging percentage of .677 was the highest since Mickey Mantle in 1961. He led the Giants to 103 wins, a team record. He easily won his third MVP award, joining the elite in that honor.
Unfortunately the 103 wins were not enough to overtake the Atlanta Braves, who nipped the Giants on the last day of the season. The disappointment was another in a long line of team failure's for Bonds. His Pirate teams had reached the playoffs three times, only to lose the pennant each time. In '90 they lost in six games to Cincinnati, and the margin in their four losses was just 7 runs. In '91 they led the Braves 3-2 after five games and were heading home. But they lost the sixth game in the 9th inning, 1-0. In Game Seven they were shutout. In '92 they suffered the worst heartbreak. Trailing 3-1 after four games, the Bucs killed Atlanta in games six and seven to tie the series. In Game Seven they led 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th and saw the Braves rally for 3 runs (two of them with two outs) to win the flag.
The 1993 near-miss helped solidify the long-held theory that Bonds was a choker in the playoffs. In the 1990 LCS he batted just .167, in 1991 it was an anemic .148. In 1992 he hit his first post-season home run and batted .261 - well below fan expectations.
The Giants got another chance in 1997, when they went from last place in 1996, to first place. Bonds helped with his 40 homers, 101 RBI, 123 runs, 37 steals, and league-leading 145 walks. In the playoffs against the wild-card Marlins, the Giants were upset in three straight games. Bonds managed just three hits in the series, but two of them were doubles in game two when he also drove in two runs. The real blame belonged to the bullpen, but Bonds reputation as a post-season flop was cemented.
In 1998, the Giants finished deadlocked with the Cubs for the wild-card spot and were forced to play a 163rd game. The Cubs beat them and Bonds frustration continued. In 2000 the Giants rolled to the best record in the National League but were again de-railed - losing to the Mets in the opening round of the playoffs.
Bonds continued to put up his amazing regular season numbers, surpassing 2,000 career hits, 1,400 RBI, 1,500 runs, and 480 steals. Early in 2001 he passed the 500-homer mark, joining fellow Giants stars Mays and Willie McCovey. He set an NL record for most home runs in the month of May (17), and began to challenge the all-time home run mark when he homered in six straight games twice.
Bonds maintained the pace well into August, getting hot just prior to the events of September 11. After baseball returned from a week hiatus due to the tragic events, Bonds took a while to get going again. In a late-season series against the Astros, Houston manager Larry Dierker came under fire when he insisted on walking Bonds instead of allowing him to break McGwire's record.
In the season's final weekend, Bonds pleased his hometown fans, breaking the 70-homer barrier and adding a few more to end up with 73. He also finished with an astounding .863 slugging percentage, the best in baseball history.
In 2002, 38-year old Bonds was back for more. He won his first batting title (.370) and reached the 600-homer mark, joining three others (Mays, Ruth and Aaron). Amazingly, he clubbed his 500th and 600th homers in successive seasons. Bonds also broke Ted Williams record for the highest OBP in a season, giving Barry both the single-season slugging and OBP marks.
Leading the League
Through 2005, Bonds had led the NL in 11 different offensive categories a total of 61 times in 13 separate seasons.
Games Played (1)
Home Runs (2)
Total Bases (1)
1992, 1994-1997, 2000-2004
Intentional Walks (11)
1990, 1992-1993, 2001-2004
1991-1993, 1995, 2001-2004
1990-1993, 1995, 2001-2004
Total Average (10)
1990-1993, 1995, 1996, 2001-2004
Babe Ruth: 10 categories, 90 times, 15 seasons.
Ty Cobb: 14 categories, 85 times, 15 seasons.
Ted Williams: 13 categories, 81 times, 14 seasons.
Rogers Hornsby: 14 categories, 78 times, 10 seasons.
Stan Musial: 16 categories, 77 times, 14 seasons.
Honus Wagner: 13 categories, 59 times, 12 seasons.
Lou Gehrig: 14 categories, 43 times, 12 seasons.
Mickey Mantle:12 categories, 43 times, 10 seasons.
Mike Schmidt: 12 categories, 42 times, 10 seasons.
Henry Aaron: 13 categories, 41 times, 13 seasons.
Willie Mays: 12 categories, 35 times, 12 seasons.
Yaz: 14 categories, 35 times, 9 seasons.
Frank Robinson: 13 categories, 35 times, 10 seasons.
Pete Rose: 8 categories, 32 times, 15 seasons.
Mel Ott: 10 categories, 28 times, 12 seasons.
George Brett: 11 categories, 24 times, 9 seasons.
Rickey Henderson: 6 categories, 24 times, 12 seasons.
Tris Speaker: 10 categories, 23 times, 9 seasons.
Dick Allen: 10 categories, 19 times, 5 seasons.
Sam Crawford: 7 categories, 17 times, 10 seasons.
Tony Gwynn: 4 categories, 17 times, 9 seasons.
Cal Ripken Jr. : 7 categories, 16 times, 10 seasons.
Joe DiMaggio: 8 categories, 14 times, 7 seasons.
Junior Griffey: 6 categories, 11 times, 5 seasons.
Al Kaline: 7 categories, 8 times, 4 seasons.
Roberto Clemente: 4 categories, 8 times, 6 seasons.
Most Times Walked Intentionally with No One on Base
This list encompasses the era in which intentional walk data has been recorded (through 2005).
Barry Bonds... 36
Frank Howard... 8
Mark McGwire... 7
Willie McCovey... 5
Harmon Killebrew... 3
Where He Played
Entering 2003, Bonds had played all but roughly 180 of his defensive games in left field. Early in his career, until about the mid-1990s, Bonds had the range to play center field, but his weak arm kept him from playing that position. As it is, Bonds must be considered one of the best defensive left fielders of all-time.
Barry Lamar Bonds was born on July 24, 1964, in Riverside, CA.
Primary Position: OF
Primary Team: SFN
College: Arizona State
Major League Debut
May 30, 1986 ... Bonds led off and faced Orel Hershiser in his first ML at-bat. Hershiser got Bonds to pop to short in the first, and Bonds walked in the third against "Bulldog." In the fourth he struck out looking against Ed Vande Berg and in the sixth Vande Berg got him to line to shortstop. In the ninth Tom Niedenfuer struck Barry out and the game went into extra-innings. In the bottom of the 11th, with the Bucs trailing by two and a man on first, Bonds struck out against Alejandro Pena for the first out of the frame. The Pirates lost 6-4, Bonds going 0-for-5 with three K's and a walk. He handled four putouts in center field.
Bonds' first ML hit came on April 20, 1986, off the Cubs' Dave Gumpert, in Chicago's Wrigley Field. In a marathon game, Bonds entered as a pinch-hitter for Jim Morrison in the top of the 17th inning. He lined a single to left field to score Johnny Ray with the go-ahead run. Bobby Bonilla also scored on the play when Thad Bosley bobbled the ball in the outfield. It was Bonds' first ML at-bat, first hit, and first RBI. He went in and played center field in the bottom of the ninth, but Barry Jones struck out the side and Bonds didn't get any action. The Pirates won 10-8 in 17 innings, the two teams combining for 33 hits and 25 men left on base. The Cubs used 10 pitchers and Pittsburgh used seven. Dennis Eckersley had started for Chicago, Mike Bielecki for the Bucs.
First ML hit came on April 20, 1986, off the Cubs' Dave Gumpert in the top of the 17th inning, in Chicago's Wrigley Field. It was a pinch-hit single and it drove in Johnny Ray with the winning run. It was Bonds' first RBI and first ML at-bat; First walk came against Orel Hershiser, May 30, 1986; First strikeout was against Ed Vande Berg of the Dodgers on May 30, 1986; First run scored came on June 1, 1986, against the Dodgers in Three Rivers. Bonds walked in the fifth inning and scored later on R.J. Reynolds' base hit; On June 2, 1986, Bonds attempted his first ML steal. He was gunned down by the Braves' Ted Simmons; Bonds' first home run was hit off Craig McMurtry of the Braves on June 4, 1986. It was a solo shot in the fifth inning in Atlanta's Fulton-County Stadium. In the fourth inning of the same game, Bonds picked up his first RBI, singling (to center) in Rafael Belliard; Bonds first steal came on June 7, 1986, off Gary Carter and Dwight Gooden. It was the first of two bases that he swiped off that battery in the game; On June 11, 1986, Bonds hit his first triple, in Pittsburgh. The ball sliced down the left field line over the glove of Cubs' outfielder Thad Bosley. Bonds came all the way around to score on the hit, but was credited with a triple, and Bosley was given an error when he fumbled the ball.
Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1986
#24 (1986-1992), #25 (1993-present). With the Pirates, Bonds wore #24 in honor of his godfather, Willie Mays. When he was signed by the Giants, he switched to #25, sicne Mays' uniform number had been retired.
Bonds' father and Dusty Baker were both born and raised in Riverside, California. His aunt, Rosie Bonds, once held the U.S. women's record in 80-meter hurdles and was on the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team. Hobbies include computers, technology, weightlifting, and martial arts.
Bobby Bonds in theory, but no one compares to Barry as a total package, and that's the true measure of greatness.
Bobby Bonds played several years and was a great ballplayer, blending power and speed and passing the genes on to his son... Willie Mays, who begged Barry to stay in San Francisco after his amazing 2001 season... Bobby Bonilla was Bonds' teammate on the Pirates' division-winning teams of the early 1990s... Ken Griffey Jr. has been compared to Bonds... Jeff Kent benefited greatly from bonds' presence in the lineup, but slammed Barry in the press... Ted Williams is Bonds' only rival for the greatest left fielder in history... Barry broke two of Babe Ruth's longest standing records... Mark McGwire hit 70 homers in 1998, but Barry eclipsed that mark in 2001... In 2003, Bonds and Albert Pujols, the heir-apparent to Bonds as baseball's best player, were both MVP candidates... In 2005, former AL MVP Jose Canseco's new book claimed that steroids were rampant in baseball. Though he did not directly implicate Bonds, Barry was judged harshly in the court of public opinion.
1990 National League Championship Series
1991 National League Championship Series
1992 National League Championship Series
1997 National League Divisional Series
2000 National League Divisional Series
2002 National League Championship Series
2002 National League Divisional Series
2002 World Series
2003 National League Divisional Series
Bonds silenced many of his critics by blasting a home run in his first at-bat in the World Series. He hit four homers in the series, batted .471 with eight runs scored, six RBI, and a 1.294 SLG percentage.
Awards and Honors
1990 NL Gold Glove
1990 NL MVP
1991 NL Gold Glove
1992 NL Gold Glove
1992 NL MVP
1993 NL Gold Glove
1993 NL MVP
1994 NL Gold Glove
1996 NL Gold Glove
1997 NL Gold Glove
1998 NL Gold Glove
2001 NL MVP
2002 NL MVP
2003 NL MVP
2004 NL MVP
Bonds smashed Mark McGwire's home run record in 2001 when he blasted 73. More impressively, Bonds eclipsed Babe Ruth's 81-year old slugging mark (.863) and set a new standard for walks (177)... Bonds and his godfather, Willie Mays, reached 500 homers in almost exactly the same number of at-bats (Mays hit his 500th in his 7,533rd at-bat, Bonds hit his in his 7,502nd AB). To hit his next 100 homers, it took Bonds almost 1,300 fewer at-bats than it took Mays... In 2002, Bonds broke Ted Williams' OBP record, re-broke the single-season walk record, and won the batting title.
Collected 70th home run of the 2001 season on October 4 against the Astros in Houston; Hit home run #71, breaking Mark McGwire's single-season record, on October 5, in San Francisco off the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park. Bonds later hit his 72nd homer off Park in that same game; On October 7, he blasted #73 off Dennis Springer in the final game of the season; Bonds hit 11 homers in April, 17 in May, 11 in June, 6 in July, 12 in August, 12 in September, and four in October.
Hit homers in five straight games in April of 2001, to reach 500 for his career. That is the first time Bonds accomplished such a streak. Later he hit homers in six straight games, the only man to do that twice in one season; Bonds hit two homers on opening day of the 2002 season and hit two more the next day, the first player to hit two in back-to-back games at the start of a season.
Bonds posted his career-best 14-game hitting streak September 4-20, 2000, going 20-for-47 (.426) with nine homers and 22 RBI as the Giants cruised to the NL West title. His previous longest streak was 12 straight games in 1990 for the Pirates.
- April 27, 1996: 300th HR...
- August 23, 1998: 400th HR... Came off Kirt Ojala
- April 17, 2001: 500th HR... Hit the homer off of Terry Adams… Slugged the 500th homer into McCovey Bay, and gave Giants the lead. His sixth straight game with a homer.
- August 9, 2002: 600th HR...
- September 17, 2004: 700th HR... Came against Jake Peavy
When Bonds went 0-for-5 on September 26, 2005, it was the first time he'd gone 0-for-5 since May 29, 2001... In 2001 Bonds broke two of the oldest of Babe Ruth's records - most walks and highest slugging percentage in a season. In 2002, Bonds eclipsed Ted Williams' single-season OBP record, as he reached base an amazing 58.3% of the time. Bonds also broke his own mark for walks, tallying 198 on the season. Most incredibly, Bonds continued to improve as a hitter, winning his first batting title with a .370 average in Pac Bell Park, a tough hitting environment. Carrying the Giants to the 2002 World Series, Bonds finally filled the one void he'd had in his career. He helped erase the memory of his previous poor post-season performances when he homered in his first Fall Classic at-bat. He launched four homers in the Series and hit .471, but the Giants lost to the Angels in Game Seven. In 2004, steroid rumors clouded Bonds' accomplishments. When the San Francisco Chronicle leaked testimony from a grand jury claiming that Bonds admitted to using illegal substances unknowingly, the media pounced on the slugger.
Selected by Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round (6th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 3, 1985); Granted free agency (October 26, 1992); Signed by San Francisco Giants (December 8, 1992).
The Pirates were playing Mike Brown and Mike Diaz in the outfield prior to calling Bonds up in May of 1986. Barry played center field in all of his 110 games in the field that rookie season. He led off almost exclusively, though Jim Leyland also dropped him into the #3 slot a few times.
Best Strength as a Player
Patience at the plate.
Largest Weakness as a Player
His throwing arm.
Learn More about Barry Bonds
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Sources used for the Barry Bonds Player Page:
SABR member Stephen McPherson