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If Hank Aaron is unwilling to participate in a celebration of Barry Bonds, and if Bud Selig will wait until the last possible minute to RSVP, then the Giants won't be fazed. They even turned to a local non-baseball legend Monday night.
Before the Giants opened a seven-game homestand against the Braves, they saluted Bonds for the two homers he slammed since the home fans last saw him &
Nos. 752 and 753 of his career, at Wrigley Field on Thursday.
And former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana &
arguably the only athlete to occupy the stratosphere shared by Bonds and his godfather, Willie Mays, in the Bay Area &
delivered a taped message of congratulations.
"Hey Barry, Joe Montana here," said the football Hall of Famer, shown on the ballpark's large video screen in center field. "Congratulations on a great career, and good luck on the road to history. And remember, don't just break that record. Give 'em a number that no one will reach."
Bonds, standing in left field for the start of the first inning, applauded with his glove. The Giants greatly hope there'll be more reason to celebrate by the end of this week, although they're not sharing every last detail of their plans.
"We've got a few things planned," Giants COO Larry Baer said Monday. "We don't want it too choreographed or scripted because we want to be in the moment. We want his teammates to carry the moment as much as possible."
Bonds walked in his first at-bat and grounded out in his second and third appearances against the Braves' John Smoltz, who has permitted eight homers to the slugger. That ties Smoltz with four others &
Greg Maddux, Terry Mulholland, Chan Ho Park and Curt Schilling &
for first place all-time in this category. Against reliever Rafael Soriano in the eighth inning, Bonds singled to center.
After taking Sunday's game off, Bonds reported to the clubhouse at about 4:40 p.m., a time in which most of his teammates were heading to the field for pregame stretching. He was ready for his turn in batting practice, however, and manager Bruce Bochy professed no arguments with his star's work ethic.
"I don't want him out here (before the game) wearing himself down," Bochy said. "That's the exact thing I don't want him to do."
Bochy recalled reading how Pat Riley, back when he coached the Lakers, allowed an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to sit out morning shoot-arounds.
When Bonds' contract with the Giants expired last season, San Francisco spent the early part of the off-season trying to find someone else to carry its offense. But free agents Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano rejected the Giants' advances, and the Red Sox couldn't find a match in a trade for Manny Ramirez.
Bonds, meanwhile, attempted but failed to find another suitor to give him leverage in negotiations with the Giants. His former manager with the Pirates, Jim Leyland, now heading the Tigers, met with Bonds at the winter meetings in Orlando and affectionately told him there simply was no room for him in Detroit.
So Bonds and the Giants agreed on a one-year, $16-million reunion, with the Giants getting the benefit of this immense milestone.
While the Giants have seen many other significant home runs from Bonds, "This is different, because it's truly a record," Baer said. "I think there's a huge air of anticipation."
Yet this will be a Giants-only production. The club reached out to current home run king Aaron some time ago, Baer indicated Monday; Aaron has made it clear that he wants no part of Bonds' coronation. Selig, meanwhile, is expected to attempt to witness No. 756, although not at the expense of missing next weekend's Hall of Fame induction.
"That's fine," Baer said. "We just go on what we know, and what we know is we're working on an appropriate recognition of the accomplishment, and nobody (at Major League Baseball~) has said, 'Don't do it.' Everybody said, 'We agree. Go for it.' "
Giants preparing for Bonds' record moment, aim for 'appropriate recognition'
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