Bonds ties Ruth with homer No. 714

Bonds ties Ruth with No. 714

OAKLAND -- With one more home run to go until he passes Babe Ruth into second on the all-time list, Giants slugger Barry Bonds said on Saturday that tying the Bambino at 714 gave him a sense of relief.

"I'm glad it's over with," Bonds said after the Giants defeated the A's, 4-2, in 10 innings at McAfee Coliseum. "This took a lot off me. This is good."

Bonds, 41 years old, is now 41 behind Hank Aaron, who is the all-time leading home run hitter in Major League Baseball history with 755. But he's not even thinking about that right now. He'll have a shot at passing the Great Bambino on Sunday against Oakland right-hander Joe Blanton, another pitcher he has never faced. It's then back across the bay to open a six-game homestand on Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Saturday's homer was Bonds' sixth of the season, and also tied him with Ruth as the top left-handed home run hitter in MLB history. The solo shot came on a 1-1 pitch as he led off the second inning against Oakland's Brad Halsey, with Bonds taking the left-hander deep into the right-field bleachers.

Halsey, facing Bonds for the first time, said he knew the pitch was "bad news" as soon as it left his hand. "It was a fastball over the middle of the plate and he punished me for it," Halsey said.

Bonds and the sellout crowd of 35,077 figured the wait had ended the minute the 90-mph pitch connected with his bat.

"I knew when I hit it that it was gone," said Bonds, who also collected his 2,100th run scored on the milestone homer. "Now it was just, make it around the bases."

As he trotted toward first base, Bonds pointed at the front row of seats behind the dugout where his family was seated next to Giants president Larry Baer, Halsey having just become the 420th pitcher to allow at least one of Bonds' homers.

The partisan San Francisco Bay Area crowd began to give Bonds a standing ovation as he circled the bases and chanted "Barry, Barry," a mantra that was often repeated when he came to bat with a chance to pass the Bambino later in the game. Bonds went 1-for-3 and was walked intentionally the last two times he hit, extending his Major League record in that category to 626. His 2,353 total walks are also a record.

"I'm just glad it happened in the Bay," Bonds said. "East Bay, West Bay, as long as it just happened here. The fans even in Oakland were phenomenal. They gave me a standing ovation. I think it was exciting for them because I hit it in the Bay Area, regardless. It was really gratifying."

to the babe and beyond

It had almost been two weeks and 40 plate appearances since Bonds hit homer No. 713 in his next-to-last at-bat on May 7 in Philadelphia, and after nine starts in San Francisco, Houston and Oakland through Friday night, he was 4-for-29 with 10 walks and had been hit by one pitch.

By the time Bonds reached home plate, where he hugged his 16-year-old son, Nikolai -- a batboy for the Giants on Saturday -- the noise had reached its crescendo. Bonds met his teammates in a group hug in front of the team's first-base dugout and then blew kisses into the stands toward his wife, Liz, and daughters, Aisha and Shikari.

The reaction of his teammates was something special, Bonds said, considering the fact that no one budged out of the dugout in San Francisco when Bonds hit his 700th homer off San Diego's Jake Peavy on Sept. 17, 2004.

"This and a World Series ring for me would be the ultimate. You can't say enough about [Babe Ruth]. He changed the game of baseball. We've all had our opportunity to add our two cents to the game. It's just great. It's a great feat being considered in the same class."
-- Barry Bonds

"Usually we wait in the dugout because that was his time to have that moment with his son and family in the stands," said Mark Sweeney, new to the Giants and the Bonds scene this year. "We don't want to take it for granted, either, but this was something special."

After that, Bonds stepped forward from the dugout and doffed his helmet to the cheering throng. And then he did it again, responding to a curtain call.

"They were ecstatic," Baer said about Bonds' family members. "It was a reflection of what's in his head -- just a real sense. I think 714 is the real exhale. There's a lot of relief and a lot of pride. From our standpoint, it's pride that he did this in a Giants uniform."

The 390-foot homer was caught by Tyler Snyder, who snared it with his glove as if he was catching a picnic fly ball. Snyder, 19 and a resident of nearby Pleasanton, Calif., then left the ballpark, an A's spokesman said. But several reporters said they had spoken to Snyder and peppered Bonds with questions at the postgame press conference, relaying that the teenager was not a Barry Bonds fan.

Asked what he thought of that reaction, Bonds said: "I forgive you. If he doesn't like me, then give me the ball."

Ruth hit No. 714, the last homer of his illustrious career, on May 25, 1935, as a member of the Boston Braves. The homer, coming at Pittsburgh's long-gone Forbes Field, was his last of a three-homer, six-RBI outburst that day. The Babe played his last game five days later. At the time, former Yankees teammate Lou Gehrig was second on the all-time list with 352 homers, according to David Vincent of SABRE. Ruth originally took the lead in 1921 when he hit his 127th homer.

Aaron, who came up with the Braves and moved with them from Milwaukee to Atlanta, tied Ruth nearly 39 years later -- on April 4, 1974, Opening Day of that baseball season at Cincinnati's old Riverfront Stadium. Aaron passed the Bambino on April 8, 1974, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Thus, Bonds tied the Babe five days short of the 71st anniversary of Ruth's last home run.

"This is a great accomplishment because of Babe Ruth and what he brought to the game of baseball," Bonds said. "This and a World Series ring for me would be the ultimate. You can't say enough about him. He changed the game of baseball. We've all had our opportunity to add our two cents to the game. It's just great. It's a great feat being considered in the same class."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.