30 years after debut, Bonds reflects on Bucs tenure

30 years after debut, Bonds reflects on Bucs tenure

MIAMI -- Barry Bonds didn't remember the anniversary, but he recalled the details.

On May 30, 1986, exactly 30 years ago, Bonds pulled on a Pirates jersey and made his Major League debut at Three Rivers Stadium. But first, he had to wait.

"Five days for Trench Davis to clear waivers," Bonds said with a smile as the Pirates prepared to open a four-game series against the Marlins on Monday. "I sat at my hotel. ... I went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, I believe."

Bonds' memory is sharp. He was hitless in five at-bats, struck out three times and walked once to begin a historic 22-year career that ended with a record 762 home runs. He spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh, the best player on the Pirates' best teams since their recent run of success that began in 2013.

Standing in the home dugout at Marlins Park before batting practice on Monday, Bonds looked back fondly on his time with the Pirates. He remembered living on Mount Washington when he first came up, then settling in Coraopolis.

"I had a great time. Pittsburgh was fun. Great friends out there," Bonds said. "I lived in a great neighborhood. It was awesome."

The Pirates won the National League East in 1990, '91 and '92, but lost each year in the NL Championship Series. Despite the disappointing finishes, Bonds views that three-year run as his greatest accomplishment in Pittsburgh.

"Bummer we didn't win the whole thing, but we were a pretty good team," he said. "That was the best, when we finally figured out how to win."

Bonds left after the 1992 season, the Bucs' last winning campaign before 2013. Like the 1990-92 Pirates, the current iteration has reached the postseason three straight years with a superstar outfielder leading the way.

So, how does Bonds think Andrew McCutchen has fared as the Pirates' greatest player since, well, Barry Bonds?

"I thought Pops [Willie] Stargell and [Roberto] Clemente were the greatest," Bonds said laughing. "I didn't play long enough there for that. ... [McCutchen will] probably play there a lot longer than I did. His status will go a lot further."

Meanwhile, Bonds is settling into his role as the Marlins' hitting coach. The Pirates never asked him to consider a similar role in Pittsburgh, he said, nor did the thought ever cross his mind.

"It's been great. It's fun. It's a learning experience on my side and their side," Bonds said. "It takes time. You're not going to develop a real bond in a few months. But over time, you'll get there."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle knew Bonds' father, Bobby, and followed his career since his days at Arizona State University. Having made a similar transition, can Hurdle relate to Bonds' move from playing to coaching?

"For a mediocre player like myself, it wasn't that hard," Hurdle said. "It was an evolution of spending time on the bench, watching things, learning things. ... It was something I wanted to do. I could not even think of speaking on Barry's behalf."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.