By Joe Becker
Today was my first day back from vacation...and it was a vacation I'll never forget.
It was capped by a magical night at AT & T Park in San Francisco. Yes, I was there when Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become the All-time Home Run King.
I was in the stands...like most of the 43-thousand plus...standing and chanting Barry's name. 5th inning, 3-2 pitch...and Homer number 756. It was a majestic shot...and Giant fans were going nuts. Fans, who didn't even know each other, were hugging and laughing.
I was lucky to be there. Originally, I was hoping to go on vacation earlier than I did, but Adam Bjaranson asked if I could wait a week, because his team, the A's were playing in Seattle. So I did, planned my trip and bought tickets to the Giants-Nationals game on-line. I could pick Monday night or Tuesday night. I picked tuesday and it worked out. I sat four rows from the top behind home plate. Good spot. I was underneath the overhang, which blocked much of the wind.
I've been lucky when it comes to baseball milestones. In 1974 I was at Busch Stadium in St. Louis when Lou Brock broke Maury Wills single season stolen base record with 105. I saw Brock get his 3-thousandth hit in 1979. One month later, I saw Carl Yastrzemski get his 3-thousandth hit at Fenway Park in Boston. There was also Mark Mcgwire's 500th homer in St. Louis in 1999. Then Bonds with #756 on Tuesday.
Once Bonds hit the homer...the stands at AT & T Park emptied in a hurry...but the fans didn't leave the ballpark. They went to the souvenir stands. The Giant merchandise counters had lines stretching 100 feet with fans. The Giants had 756 items ready to go and they sold out of just about everything. The fans didn't miss a great finish. The Giants blew the lead and the Nationals won the game 8-6 with four in the 8th.
After the game, Bonds came back onto the field and did a number of interviews that were pumped through the speakers at the ballpark. Then he did a newsconference in the press room that was carried on the big screen in centerfield.
I finally left the ball park at close to 11pm.
San Francisco is an amazing city, AT & T is an amazing ballpark and Barry Bonds is an amazing player, performance-enhancing controversy or not. My vacation went ten days and I also saw games in Los Angeles and San Diego. Over the next few days I will blog about ballpark hot dogs and a few other memories from the trip.