Baker, Bonds elected to Bay Area Sports Hall
Former Giants manager, slugger among five getting local honor
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker spoke with obvious relish. "Think about how many bad dudes came out of the Bay Area," he said.
Monday, Baker and Barry Bonds officially joined that select list of "bad dudes," though they've long been considered among Northern California's all-time athletic greats. An assortment of 70 local media members voted Bonds and Baker into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, the organization announced.
Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader who excelled for the Giants from 1993-2007, and Baker, who distinguished himself as a player and manager during 39 Major League seasons, joined a 2015 class of inductees that included golfer Roger Maltbie, former Golden State Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli and Olympic skier Jonny Moseley.
The inaugural group of BASHOF inductees in 1980 featured Giants legend Willie Mays, a fact that was not lost on Bonds.
"Going in with my godfather is special," said Bonds, who refused to stash the distinction in some mental scrapbook. Asked if joining the BASHOF shrine was something he could look back on and cherish, Bonds replied with a laugh, "I can take pride in it right now. I'm very, very appreciative."
Bonds, Baker and the rest of the induction class will be honored May 11 during the annual fundraising dinner conducted by BASHOF, which supports youth sports in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Anthony Savicke, BASHOF's vice president of finance and administration, confirmed that Bonds received more votes than any 2015 nominee, including the fellow inductees. This contrasted with Bonds' subpar totals in baseball's Hall of Fame voting, which have been attributed to his link to performance-enhancing drug use, perceived or otherwise. Despite winning seven Most Valuable Player awards and being selected to 14 All-Star teams, Bonds was named on 36.2 percent of ballots cast in the Hall's 2013 election, 34.7 percent in 2014 and 36.8 percent this year -- less than half, each time, than the 75 percent needed for induction.
Outsiders can speculate that BASHOF voters are more lenient or biased toward Bonds than the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who cast Hall of Fame ballots. Or it can be theorized that Bonds' BASHOF vote signals an impending thaw in how he is regarded. Bonds himself deftly avoided relating the issues to each other.
"They're two different subjects," Bonds said. "But, like I've said, I have faith [Hall of Fame voters will] do the right thing."
Bonds, 50, unquestionably raised the profile of Bay Area sports. He graduated from Serra High School in San Mateo, located virtually in the shadows of the Giants' previous home, Candlestick Park. After jumping from Pittsburgh to San Francisco in what may have been the most successful free-agent signing in professional sports history, Bonds hit 586 of his 762 homers with the Giants.
Baker, 65, also has Northern California roots, graduating from high school and attending community college in Sacramento. A two-time All-Star who won a pair of Silver Slugger awards and one Gold Glove as an outfielder with the Dodgers, Baker hit .278 with 242 homers and 1,013 RBIs across 19 big league seasons with four teams, including a 100-game stint with the Giants in 1984.
He began a 20-year managerial career in 1993 with the Giants, steering them to three postseasons in 10 years. His Giants teams finished 840-715, making him the franchise's winningest manager since it moved to San Francisco in 1958. Baker also managed the Cubs (2003-06) and Reds (2008-13).
Baker savored joining the previous 155 BASHOF inductees. Citing non-baseball honorees such as 49ers greats Bob St. Clair, Joe "The Jet" Perry and Joe Montana, as well as Warriors immortals Al Attles and Nate Thurmond, Baker said, "Those were guys I grew up idolizing. It's a tremendous honor to be one of them."
Entering the BASHOF pantheon with Bonds had extra significance for Baker. He was close friends with Bonds' father, Bobby, who spent the first seven seasons of his outstanding 14-year career with San Francisco. The elder Bonds died at age 57 in 2003.
"I wish Barry's dad was here to see this," Baker said.