Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Barry Bonds produced some of the most captivating seasons in baseball history during his 22-year career with the Pirates and Giants.
He hit a record 762 home runs, won an unprecedented seven National League MVP Awards and earned a host of other accolades while establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time. On paper, at least, Bonds possesses the credentials to merit a spot among inner-circle Hall of Famers, but his path to Cooperstown has been blocked due to his ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds is in his 10th and final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll generate enough support to finally land in the Hall of Fame.
While we wait for the election results to be announced on Jan. 25, let's look back at the top 10 moments of Bonds’ career:
1) The Home Run King
Aug. 7, 2007
Bonds became Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader when he clobbered a fastball from Nationals left-hander Mike Bacsik out to right-center field for his 756th career home run, breaking Hank Aaron’s 33-year-old record. Bonds immediately thrust his arms in the air, inspiring a memorable call from longtime Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper.
“756! Bonds stands alone,” Kuiper declared.
Bonds was greeted at home plate by his son, Nikolai, then mobbed by Giants teammates and coaches before family members joined him on the field. Aaron congratulated Bonds via a video message, saying, "I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope today… is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."
2) Passing the torch
April 12, 2004
Bonds reached plenty of milestones during his historic home run chase, but few were as meaningful as his 660th career homer, which tied him with his godfather, Giants legend Willie Mays, for third on the all-time list. Bonds matched the Say Hey Kid with a go-ahead three-run shot off Brewers right-hander Matt Kinney that sailed into McCovey Cove. After rounding the bases, Bonds shared a special moment on the field with Mays, who presented his godson with a diamond-encrusted Olympic torch.
“Willie gave me his blessing,” Bonds told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017. “That’s what made the difference. My thing was, passing my godfather, my idol, my icon, I was going through the emotional part. ‘I don’t want to do this, Willie.’ Then Willie gave me his blessing. He said, ‘You break my record and you break everyone’s record. You play this game until somebody rips that shirt off of you.’
“Six-sixty was the one that lit 756.”
3) No. 500
April 17, 2001
Bonds found himself in elite company when he became the 17th player to hit 500 home runs. He reached the lofty mark with another majestic splash hit, smoking a slider from reliever Terry Adams over the right-field wall for a two-run blast that lifted the Giants to a 3-2 win over the rival Dodgers. The celebration began a bit early in San Francisco, with the game stopping for nine minutes in the bottom of the eighth inning as Bonds posed for pictures with two longtime members of the 500-homer club: Willie McCovey and Mays.
4) World Series star
One of the knocks against Bonds was that he initially struggled to produce in the postseason, but he finally broke out with a massive performance during the 2002 World Series. Bonds crushed four home runs over the Giants’ seven-game series against the Angels, including a jaw-dropping moonshot off Halos closer Troy Percival in the ninth inning of Game 2 at Angel Stadium. The towering blast -- which traveled an estimated 485 feet out to right field -- stunned Angels slugger Tim Salmon, who was spotted saying, “That’s the farthest ball I’ve ever seen hit.”
5) Passing McGwire
Oct. 5, 2001
Bonds capped a year of otherworldly production when he took the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park deep for his 71st home run of the season, breaking Mark McGwire’s three-year-old single-season record. Bonds, of course, wasn’t done, as he added his 72nd homer off Park two innings later. He finished his historic 2001 campaign with 73 home runs, with the last one coming on the final day of the season against the Dodgers.
6) An emotional walk-off
Aug. 19, 2003
With Bonds on bereavement leave to tend to his ailing father, Bobby, the Giants saw their losing streak extend to a season-high six games after being swept at Montreal. Bonds rejoined the team in San Francisco, and in his first game back, he provided a huge emotional lift by crushing a walk-off home run off Braves left-hander Ray King to give the Giants a dramatic 5-4 win in 10 innings.
"I just had a lot of emotions going through me for my dad," said Bonds, who lost his father to cancer four days later.
7) Bronx Bomber
June 8, 2002
Bonds’ first and only home run at Yankee Stadium was certainly one to remember. Bonds sent the New York crowd into a frenzy after launching a titanic three-run blast into the upper deck in the first inning, securing his signature moment at the House that Ruth Built. Even Bonds couldn’t help but admire the 385-foot shot off Ted Lilly, which he punctuated with a bat flip.
“Forget about it!” Giants broadcaster Jon Miller exclaimed. “This one is headed for New Jersey!”
8) A memorable homecoming
April 12, 1993
The Giants were on the verge of relocating to St. Petersburg before a new ownership group led by Peter Magowan stepped in to keep the franchise in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, the Giants made a huge splash by signing Bonds to a six-year, $43.75 million deal in December 1992. The rollercoaster offseason set the stage for an unforgettable home opener at Candlestick Park, where Bonds signaled the beginning of a new era by homering in the first at-bat of his home debut against the Marlins. As he rounded first base, Bonds shared a high five with his father, Bobby, the club’s first-base coach, further underscoring his roots with the Giants and the Bay Area.
9) The first of many to come
Bonds placed sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting after debuting with the Pirates in 1986, but he really took off in 1990, when he hit .301 with 33 home runs and 114 RBIs to win his first career NL MVP Award and lead Pittsburgh back into the postseason for the first time since 1979. Bonds also stole 52 bases to secure his first 30-30 season and collect the first of 14 career All-Star appearances.
10) An unprecedented seventh MVP campaign
Bonds finished the 2004 season with a .362 batting average, 45 home runs and 101 RBIs to earn his fourth consecutive NL MVP Award with the Giants and his seventh overall. No other baseball player has won the award more than three times. By capturing the honor at the age of 40, Bonds surpassed Willie Stargell (39) as the oldest player to win the award, though the feat generated some suspicion due to the growing steroid controversy.