The San Francisco Giants retired Barry Bonds iconic number 25 jersey on Saturday night. The ceremony took place before the San Francisco Giants hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates, the two teams that Bonds played for in his Major League Baseball career. Willie Mays was on hand to honor Bonds, who is the godfather of the slugging outfielder. Mays’ number 24 jersey is also retired by the San Francisco Giants.
Bonds joined the San Francisco Giants as a free agent prior to the 1993 season. Bonds spent the next 15 seasons with the Giants and led the franchise through a rebirth. He spent the first 7 seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but became famous in San Francisco. The Giants honored Bonds with a brief ceremony before the game that included a speech from the legend.
Bonds became the 10th player to have his number retired by the San Francisco Giants. Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry attended the ceremony. A large number of former teammates were also in attendance, and the Giants played several video tributes on the scoreboard as part of the ceremony.
Willie Mays spoke to the large crowd at AT&T Ballpark and made a case for Bonds to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Mays chanted to the crowd, “Vote this guy in,” which drew a large ovation from the crowd. In 2015 federal prosecutors dropped their long case against Bonds that was dealing with steroid use. The use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs is the one issue that is keeping Bonds from the Hall of Fame.
A player needs to appear on at least 75% of the ballots to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Bonds appeared on 56.4% of the ballots this season, which is still well short of the required amount. He appeared on just 36.2% of the ballots in his first year on the ballot, so his case is trending the right way.
Barry Bonds was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball history. Bonds won the National League Most Valuable Player seven times during his illustrious career. The 54-year-old is the all-time home run king in Major League Baseball, finishing his career with 762 home runs. Bonds hit his 756th home run on August 7, 2007, surpassing Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs to be the all-time leader.
Bonds won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1986 as a 21 year old outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his first All-Star game in 1990, and also won the National League MVP Award that season. He went on to win another MVP Award with the Pirates in 1992, before heading to San Francisco the next season.
The slugger won the MVP Award four straight seasons from 2001-2004 in a stretch that might be the best in baseball history. He hit 73 home runs in 2001 to set the single season record that still stands to this day. Bonds made the All-Star team in his final season of baseball in 2007.