Sitting in my apartment in Ohio, I was lucky enough to watch history. Very few people got to see Babe Ruth’s 714th home run. But due to the miracle of cable television, I was able to watch Barry Bonds pass the Babe, with homer 715.
The first thing that was noticeable was how subdued the reaction was, especially compared to April 8, 1974, the last time someone passed Ruth. Henry Aaron’s 715th homer was hit into left field. He was congratulated by a screaming Atlanta crowd, and mobbed at home plate by his teammates. He was also surrounded by media from all over the world.
Bonds’ homer got a loud reaction from San Francisco, and some teammates came out to congratulate him. He was not, however, chased by two hippies while rounding the bases. Nor did the Giants’ dugout completely empty.
Bonds’ homer was a solo shot, and made the score 6-2 Rockies. Maybe Barry’s teammates did not feel like celebrating when down four runs.
People say baseball does not celebrate second place, and they’re right. But statistically, Bonds is now the second-best power hitter in Major League Baseball history. That’s an amazing feat, and one which, under different circumstances, would be lauded by the sport as a milestone of celebration. But the story is far too complicated to celebrate.
We all know why.
Only time will tell how Barry Bonds will be remembered. But it will be remembered. What I just watched on TV, what millions just watched on TV, will be shown for years to come.
What context it is shown in is still up for debate.
Even though it doesn’t look like Bonds will pass the 755 homers hit by Aaron, it is still a possibility. I can’t help but wonder what the reaction will be if the Giants' outfielder hits 756.
Will baseball congratulate him? Or will it add a sentence to its mantra?
Baseball doesn’t celebrate second place.
Does it celebrate suspected cheaters?
If only it was 1998.