Giants

Giants

Seven hundred and sixty-two home runs. Seven MVP awards, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Slugger awards and 14 All-Star appearances.

All that and more is on Barry Bonds' incredible résumé. But the Giants legend is not universally celebrated the same way other greats of the game are. He likely won't be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and generally is viewed as somewhat of a black mark on the game. 

It hurts Bonds, baseball's all-time leader in home runs, walks, intentional walks and MVP awards, that the game he loves has banished him.

“I feel like a ghost,” Bonds said in an exclusive conversation with The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly. “A ghost in a big empty house, just rattling around."

“A death sentence. That’s what they’ve given me," Bonds later told Baggarly.

The Giants brought Bonds to spring training this week as a guest instructor, hoping he could give some of his vast hitting knowledge to a team with young talent at all levels. The most terrifying force to ever step into a batter's box, Bonds deserves to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame and praised as a legend of the game.

His public persona and the way he handled interactions with the media while playing didn't help to make him a person worthy of sympathy in many people's eyes. It never was proven that Bonds took steroids, but the presumption of guilt has led the game to cast him aside.

 

Bonds received 60.7 percent on the latest Hall of Fame ballot, his third-to-last shot at Cooperstown. He needs 75 percent and it appears unlikely he'll reach that number, leaving one of baseball's greatest hitters on the outside looking in.

It's not something that wears on Bonds and getting into Cooperstown won't cure the pain being ostracized from the game has caused him.

“If they don’t want me, just say you don’t want me and be done with it,” Bonds told Baggarly of the Hall of Fame. “Just be done with it.”

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Bonds will always be celebrated in San Francisco, receiving a hero's welcome every time he shows up to Oracle Park. He still serves as a special assistant to the CEO, and his number 25 will forever hang on the Oracle Park facade. He's a legend and baseball royalty, and he's treated as such in the Bay Area.

He just wishes the rest of the game felt the same way.

“My heart, it’s broken. Really broken," Bonds told Baggarly.