Emotional Barry Bonds pays tribute to 'Uncle Mac' Willie McCovey

Emotional Barry Bonds pays tribute to 'Uncle Mac' Willie McCovey

When Barry Bonds came home to San Francisco to sign with the Giants, he had one request for the player he grew up admiring. And it wasn't for Willie Mays, his godfather, who perhaps has been his biggest inspiration aside from his father, Bobby.

Barry had a big question for Willie McCovey.

"I go back with Mac as a little boy as much as I go back with Willie Mays," Bonds said Thursday at AT&T Park during McCovey's celebration of life. "I idolized Willie Mays, but I was born left-handed and my first glove was a first baseman's glove. As much as I always wanted to be like Say Hey, I always had to stretch like Mac.

"My father and McCovey were great friends. Mac loved our family unconditionally. And in 1993, when I came back to San Francisco, I asked Mac if I could call him 'Uncle Mac,' because I've always admired him and he's always taught me the game of baseball as much as Willie [Mays] and my father have. Mac said, 'I wouldn't want anything more than for you to call me Uncle Mac.' "

Bonds, who acknowledged how rarely he publicly speaks at events, then spoke on the day the Giants forever honored him by retiring his jersey number, just like the franchise did in the past for Mays and McCovey. 

"I also want to thank the Giants organization for allowing Mac to be here to have my number retired and my uncle was here," Bonds said before stepping aside to hold back tears. "I appreciate that a lot." 

The two sluggers always will go down as some of the greatest Giants ever and the greatest power hitters the game has seen, period. An aspect of AT&T Park has their power forever remembered. 

"I want to thank you Mac because we're connected," Bonds said. "I want to thank the Giants for giving Mac that cove out there. And I want to thank Mac for letting me hit a bunch of baseballs in his cove." 

AT&T Park opened for the 2000 season. Through 2018, there have been 78 splash hits with home runs smashed from Giants into the cove. Bonds alone has 35, easily the most by any Giant. 

To close out his speech, Bonds went back to what McCovey, the Giants and all of San Francisco mean to him. 

"Like I said, I'm connected," Bonds said. "I'm connected in left field. My godfather's in center field. My father's in right field. Mac's at first base. Gaylord [Perry] is on the mound. Tito [Fuentes] at second base. Chris Speier at shortstop. I wish Jimmy Ray Hart was still around, he'd be my third baseman. Dave Rader was catching at that time when I was a little boy."

But before he stepped away from the mic, Bonds had one more splash hit for Uncle Mac. 

"And McCovey, thank you so much for allowing me to out-hit everyone in your cove," Bonds said.

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Connor Joe has been working to get to the big leagues.

It appears the San Diego native will finally get that shot. A trade from the Reds to the Giants may have smashed open the door for Joe.

"It was exciting," Joe told KNBR 680 on Saturday when asked what his initial reaction was to the trade. "I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back with a team on the West Coast ... that's closer to home is an amazing opportunity for me."

Joe attended Poway High School in San Diego, and then went to the University of San Diego. The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 39 overall draft pick on Joe in 2014 and then traded him to Atlanta in August of 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. A month later, the Braves shipped him to the Dodgers. This past December, the Reds claimed Joe in the Rule 5 draft.

Then the trade to the Giants happened on Thursday.

Joe knows San Francisco well. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Joe made plenty of trips to the Bay Area to face the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara. He told KNBR's Marty Lurie that his sister lives in San Francisco, and that he traveled up state with his dad for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.

"It's a great city, I love it," Joe said. "It's a little different speed than I'm used to in San Diego, but I'm really excited to be there and really excited for this opportunity."

The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. After hitting just 11 home runs his first three minor league seasons, Joe crushed 17 home runs last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, and finished the year with a .299/.408/.527 slash line.

What led to the improved play?

"For me, I think the biggest thing was allowing my athletic abilities to come out and not being trapped in a certain way that people wanted me to be," Joe said. "So, I told myself to be athletic in the box, out in the field and saw really positive results from that."

One of the aspects that made Joe attractive to the Giants is his versatility. He has experience at first base, third base, left field and right field. But he doesn't have a preferred position.

"I can't tell you what I am," Joe said. "I'm a baseball player. It's something I've done throughout my career, starting in college, so I'm used to bouncing around from game to game, even inning to inning."

Things can change in a hurry, but considering that the Giants acquired him a week before Opening Day, it's safe to say they envision him on the roster.

[RELATED: Giants reportedly acquire Michael Reed]

Guess where the Giants open the 2019 season? Yep. San Diego.

Imagine if Joe is able to make his major league debut in his hometown in front of his family. What a story that would be.

MLB rumors: Giants trade for Michael Reed from Twins for John Andreoli


MLB rumors: Giants trade for Michael Reed from Twins for John Andreoli

The Giants aren't done making moves.

The team traded outfielder John Andreoli to the Twins for outfielder Michael Reed as NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported on Saturday.

Reed played in just seven games last year with the Braves, hitting .286/.286/.286 -- the man, if anything, is consistent. 

But across 53 games in Triple-A, he boasted a .363 batting average with seven home runs and 25 RBI. 

Obviously, his big league numbers are at a very small sample size, but those numbers in the International League seem promising. 

[RELATED: Recent Giants' cuts could make impact on team later]

The Giants released both Cameron Maybin and Matt Joyce over the last 24 hours. The team acquired Michael Yastrzemski on Saturday to help bolster the outfield and provide more bodies for an empty situation -- that appears to be the trend with bringing Reed to the team.