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Press Row: Scribes weigh in on No. 755

Press Row: Scribes weigh in on No. 755

Barry Bonds' home run chase reached its pinnacle Saturday when Bonds clocked home run No. 755 in San Diego to tie Hank Aaron for first on the all-time list.

Bonds had finally done it. He wrote his name into all-time home run history alongside Aaron's, but let's not forget it was sportswriters who were doing the actual writing, and the momentous occasion will be remembered forever through their carefully crafted words.

Henry Schulman: "Side by Side With Aaron"
"Bonds' 755th homer went to left field, just like his first homer in 1986. It clanged off the facing of the low second deck at PETCO Park, a stadium, legend holds, that was built with deep dimensions to be 'Bonds-proof.' A crowd of 42,497 reacted with more cheers than boos, flying in the face of yearslong fears that this feat would be greeted with embarrassing derision.

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"At 7:29 PDT, Bonds came to the plate on a warm evening, with plenty of sunlight still bathing the office buildings and hotels that compose the skyline beyond the three-year-old stadium. As usual, flashbulbs popped incessantly as soon as he made his way to the batter's box, although their effect was muted in the dusk.

"Bonds took the first three pitches, a strike and two balls, before slamming the 2-1, outside fastball to the opposite field. He had no doubt he made history.

"Bonds dropped his bat, punched one hand with the other and clapped as he started to run. There were no histrionics, only a satisfying 360-foot trot."

-- The San Francisco Chronicle

Jack Curry: "Extra Practice Pays as Bonds Ties Aaron's Mark"
"Barry Bonds was waiting, the San Francisco Giants were waiting and the baseball world was waiting. Eventually, Bonds was going to nudge into a tie with Hank Aaron on the career home run list. Even if it was not necessarily an untainted achievement, it was inevitable. That inevitability rumbled into reality on Saturday night.

"With the blur of his black maple bat, Bonds drove Clay Hensley's fastball over the left-field wall and off an advertising sign in the second inning at PETCO Park and drove himself into one of the most hallowed places in baseball history. Bonds and Aaron are each parked at 755 home runs, but Bonds is only idling. He will soon become the new home run king.

"As soon as Bonds' ball caromed off the sign, there was a mixed reaction. Bonds did not hear relentless jeers, as many had suspected that he might. Instead, he received a combination of cheers and boos. But there were some moments when the cheers seemed louder in a park where Bonds has been repeatedly vilified.

"Because Bonds has been linked to investigations into the use of steroids, he has routinely been booed at opposing ballparks. But when Bonds' 755th homer launched into history at 7:29 p.m. here, there was a portion of the enemy crowd that applauded. Some fans in left field also hoisted asterisk signs as their way of protesting."

-- The New York Times

Janie McCauley:
"With a short swing, a half stare and an emphatic clap of his hands, Barry Bonds rounded the bases. After so many days and so many tries, he had finally caught Hammerin' Hank.

"'The hard part is over right now,' Bonds said.

"High above the field in a private box, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was a reluctant witness to history. Choosing to overlook the steroid allegations that have dogged the San Francisco slugger, Selig watched Bonds tie Hank Aaron's home run record -- his mouth agape, hands stuffed in pockets and nary a cheer on his lips.

"No. 755 was a strong shot for all the doubters, an opposite-field drive of 382 feet to left-center, moving Bonds within one swing of having baseball's pinnacle of power all to himself. It came on a 2-1, 91 mph fastball Saturday night."

-- The Associated Press

Andrew Baggarly: "Outta Here!"
"He hit it for a last-place club that walked out of the dugout to greet him, happy to be firsthand witnesses to baseball's first all-time record-tying home run since Aaron matched Ruth 33 years, four months ago.

"He hit it on the same day New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to collect his 500th home run, giving anti-Bonds fans a hero to cheer for the next decade.

"He hit it just over 31 years after Aaron hit his 755th and final home run at Milwaukee's County Stadium against the California Angels. The right fielder for the Angels that day was Bobby Bonds. His son, Barry, was four days away from his 12th birthday."

-- The San Jose Mercury News

Jeff Fletcher: "Caught up"
"Although the milestone homer came at San Diego's PETCO Park, before a sellout crowd that jeered him as he stepped to the plate, the homer was greeted by raucous cheers and a standing ovation.

"Like Bonds or hate him -- and most non-Giants fans seem to say they hate him -- they obviously appreciated the significance of the moment."

"The crowd roared as Bonds circled the bases. His teammates came out of the dugout to greet him, and his 17-year-old son, Nikolai, met him at home plate. Bonds lifted up Nikolai and gave him a bear hug, pounding him on the back."

-- The Press Democrat

Tom Singer: "Bonds joins Aaron on mountaintop"
"Bonds reached Aaron's pedestal Saturday night in San Diego, but The Hammer wasn't there to welcome him.

"That was a lamentable aspect of a compelling evening, one which stirred emotions, challenged cynics to cheer with their hearts and not with their heads, and left you with a lump in the throat for the sheer magnetism of the occasion.

"Bonds scaled the final stories into the homer penthouse as the most polarizing player of his generation. But whichever pole flies your flag, is he now a co-holder of the greatest individual record in American sports?

"You bet your asterisk."

-- MLB.com

Gary Peterson: "Real show was in batting practice"
"History may have been born at 7:29 p.m. Saturday, when Bonds drove a Clay Hensley pitch off the facing of the second deck in left for the 755th home run of his career.

"But history was conceived between 2:45 and 3:15 Saturday afternoon, when Bonds took more than 100 swings in an early batting-practice session in a nearly deserted stadium.

"Off the meaty offerings of manager Bruce Bochy, and later hitting coach Joe Lefebvre, Bonds smoked one ball after another. Hissing line drives skipped across the outfield grass. Booming fly balls clattered off empty seats.

"Bonds would take several hacks, then rest while teammates Rajai Davis and Fred Lewis took their turns. He would practice components of his swing, or consult with Lefebvre. Then it was back to the plate, round after round after round -- 11 in all."

-- Contra Costa Times

Tom Sullivan: "Fanfare muted for this historic* swing at PETCO"
"This is the sound of one hand clapping. This is a Giant step with at least one more shoe to drop. This is baseball history replete with asterisks and disclaimers and robbed of its inspiration.

"This is Barry Bonds, hitting home run No. 755.

"It was an epic achievement and a hollow happening, a milestone with less merriment than a jazz funeral on Bourbon Street. The cheers were more polite than passionate, noticeably muted considering the circumstances, and the frantic scuffle for the souvenir ball was a testament to value rather than virtue.

"This was one of the most melancholy moments in baseball history. Just as almost everyone expected.

"As much as many fans dislike Bonds, they also understand that baseball's most revered record hasn't changed hands in 33 years. Though Bonds represented a rival team in the middle of a pennant race, many Padres fans reacted as if they preferred the chance to witness No. 756 in person to the sight of Bonds jogging to first base without putting a ball in play.

"They weren't cheering for Bonds so much as for history, like fans who root for a no-hitter in the ninth inning regardless of the uniform. Generally speaking, Bonds generates less support outside of San Francisco than does fog."

-- The San Diego Union Tribune

Becky Regan is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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