Benito Santiago understood the decision. He understood the gravity of the situation, too.
Of course the opposing team would walk Barry Bonds to get to him, no matter how hot the All-Star catcher was. And in this case, Santiago was 0-for-2 at the time and had struck out in his previous at-bat. When Santiago walked to the plate against the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 13, 2002, he tried his best to slow his mind instead of delving into the moment: Bottom of the eighth inning, score tied 2-2 in Game 4 of the NLCS.
"When that happened, I told myself, 'Hey Benito, just take this game like it's another game,'" Santiago said Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "And ya know, it's Barry Bonds hitting in front of me. Whatever happened to him, I'm supposed to take care of him, and that was the mentality I had."
That's exactly what he did, too. The veteran catcher launched a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers to give the Giants the lead and eventual win.
"The fans never gave up. I have that ... right now I can feel it in my chest," Santiago said. "I did my best and hit a home run. A big home run."
The long ball gave the Giants a three-games-to-one lead on the Cardinals. They beat St. Louis, 2-1, one night later to reach the World Series.
Santiago was named the NLCS MVP and calls the legendary home run his favorite of his 20-year career. The five-time All-Star couldn't help but praise Giants fans and his connection with manager Dusty Baker.
"It was great, especially in San Francisco. ... It's one of my best, one of my best years," Santiago said. "I love it. I love it all."
Since Oracle Park opened ahead of the 2000 season, there have been countless memorable moments. Santiago's swing is among those that will go down in franchise history.