Bonds recalls time as Pirate at ceremony

August 12th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants retired Barry Bonds' No. 25 on Saturday night at AT&T Park, but it seemed fitting that they did so with the Pirates in town, standing and watching from the visitor's dugout.

Bonds' number retirement ceremony was a celebration of the home run king's time and accomplishments in the Bay Area. But he and the Giants took the time to recognize Pittsburgh's place in his career.

Jim Leyland, Bonds' first Major League manager, spoke during Saturday's pregame ceremony. So did fellow "Killer B" Bobby Bonilla, who was seated behind Bonds on the field. Former Pirates teammate Tim Wakefield congratulated Bonds in a video message that aired on the AT&T Park scoreboard. As Bonds addressed the sold-out crowd, he thanked Leyland and former outfield coach Bill Virdon while fondly remembering his seven seasons with the Pirates.

"If it wasn't for the preparation I received in Pittsburgh, I don't think I would have been ready to succeed at home," Bonds said. "Thank you, Pittsburgh. Thank you to the black and gold for all the wonderful years."

Bonds called Leyland the "best manager I could have ever had starting out my career" and thanked Virdon for turning him into an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner. Bonds hit 176 of his 762 home runs and won two of his seven National League MVP Awards with the Pirates before signing as a free agent with the Giants.

"Barry Bonds is also one of the greatest Pirates of all time," Leyland said. "Without question, he is the best player I ever managed in my 22 years as a Major League skipper."

As Bonds became the 10th player in Giants history to have his number retired, a large group of Pirates players, coaches and staff watched from the top step of their dugout. During his speech, Bonds nodded toward the Bucs as he said "Pittsburgh, where it all started."

"This is just a day in history. It's part of history," reliever said Saturday afternoon. "If you're in this building and you're not watching, that doesn't make any sense."

Clint Hurdle got to watch Bonds' career unfold from the other dugout when he managed the Rockies. Before Saturday's game, he marveled at Bonds' balance in the batter's box and his ability to crush the few hittable pitches he would see on a given day. Afterward, Hurdle was impressed with the emotion Bonds displayed before a sold-out crowd of 41,209.

"I got goosebumps a number of different times. To see the humility and the passion he shared, the humanness, the people that spoke on his behalf, it's really cool," Hurdle said. "I just thought it was a fantastic job, very professionally done with a lot of heartfelt passion and warmth. … That was just a wonderful day to be at the ballpark, for sure, without a doubt. I was very blessed to be there and listen to all of it."