SAN FRANCISCO &
If Barry Bonds doesn't splash his 756th home run into the bay, the record-breaker could come in Hank Aaron's old hometown. Or at the home of the Giants' biggest rival. Or maybe a ballpark where fans usually throw back balls.
And that could be pretty awkward. Picture a major moment in sports taking place in front of a crowd that didn't want to see it happen.
"I can't imagine they wouldn't want that to happen at home anyway," Milwaukee pitcher Ben Sheets said at the All-Star game. "That's a big record. You almost need to give it its due. The only place you can really give it its due is at home. Make sure you tell him that, too."
Bonds enters a three-game weekend series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers with 751 homers, four shy of tying Aaron. After this week, the Giants visit Wrigley Field for four games against the Chicago Cubs, then travel to Milwaukee to play the Brewers three times.
Milwaukee is the hometown of commissioner Bud Selig, a close friend of Aaron's. Selig still hasn't said whether he'll be in attendance when Bonds breaks the record. There are also plenty of Aaron fans left in the city where Hammerin' Hank began and ended his career.
While Bonds gets booed at almost every opposing ballpark because of his prickly personality and allegations of steroid use, a celebration could be particularly strange in Milwaukee.
"Obviously he's a lightning rod," Sheets said. "It's an honor that should be celebrated not taken away from. I'm not sure people will appreciate what just happened. At least you know in San Francisco that people will be there to honor what just happened. I don't know what would happen in Milwaukee. It's Hank Aaron's record. I just don't think it would be a good idea."
Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy admitted he wouldn't mind witnessing history, provided his team won the game.
"I think it would be unbelievable to see it," Hardy said.
If the past is any indication, Hardy's best chance might not be until the Brewers come to San Francisco on Aug. 24.
Starting with career homer No. 500, nearly every milestone shot Bonds has hit has come at home.
That list includes homer No. 71 that broke the single-season record in 2001, No. 600 the following year, the shots that tied and passed Willie Mays for third place all-time in 2004, No. 700 later that season and No. 715 last year to move past Babe Ruth.
About the only noteworthy homer to come outside of San Francisco occurred just across the bay in Oakland. With plenty of Giants fans in the stands last year, Bonds tied Ruth with No. 714.
When Aaron broke Ruth's record in 1974, the Braves tried to make sure he did it at home.
Aaron hit the record-tying shot on opening day in Cincinnati and then sat out the following game as the Braves tried to guarantee the record would be set in Atlanta.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the team to play Aaron in the series finale against the Reds and Aaron did not homer. Selig said earlier this week he didn't think there would be a similar issue with the Giants and Bonds.
Bonds said he doesn't have the time at his age to worry about where his biggest record-breaking home run comes, but is pretty sure people will want to see it wherever it happens.
"They boo, but all them cameras flash every time I swing, don't they?" Bonds said. "Boo, but click, click, click, click, click, click. The fans like baseball, guys. Fans enjoy the game of baseball. Regardless of what anybody says, they're going to come. They want to see it happen."
Including some of Bonds' opponents.
San Diego pitcher Greg Maddux said he was a little disappointed that Bonds wasn't in position to set the record late last month when the Padres came to San Francisco. He could another chance to see it when the Giants visit San Diego the first weekend in August. That series comes after the Giants play three games at Dodger Stadium.
Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee also wants to see the historic shot.
"I'm checking the paper every day to see if he hits a home run," Lee said. "It's unbelievable that he's hit 750-something home runs. I'll be tuned in when he's about to break it."
But what if it came next week against the Cubs?
"That's a tricky question," Lee said. "I don't know the answer. I won't be upset if he breaks the record against us. Hopefully it won't be a ninth inning, game-winner type of thing. Hopefully it's a blowout if he does it."
The interesting question will be whether the fans at Wrigley Field throw back a ball that could fetch big bucks on the auction scene.
"They'd be crazy to throw it back," Lee said. "I know I wouldn't."
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.
Bonds record-breaking homer could draw interesting reaction on the road
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