Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent formed one of the most feared power hitting duos in Giants history for six seasons together. From 1997 to 2002, the two slugged a combined 479 home runs.
While they smashed balls over the fence, the Giants teammates clashed with their personalities.
“We weren’t friends off the field,” Kent said to the San Francisco Chronicle before he's inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame Monday, one year after Bonds. “I’ve never really spent any effort trying to evaluate our relationship or care about it."
Kent joined the Giants before the '97 season, coming off a year he hit only 12 home runs between the Mets and Indians. San Francisco sent Matt Williams, after a season in which he played in his third straight All-Star Game and hit 22 home runs, to the Indians, making Kent Bonds' new running mate in the lineup.
And Kent proved his worth right away in that first season in the Bay. Kent hit 29 round-trippers in '97, then a career-high for him. As time went on and his career took off, Kent's relationship with Bonds did the opposite.
In the last year of Bonds and Kent in the same lineup, it all came crashing down on June 25, 2002, in San Diego. Between the second and third inning of their 10-7 loss to the Padres, the two began screaming and shoving each other with Bonds grabbing Kent around the throat and pushing him against the dugout wall. After the altercation, Bonds hit a three-run blast that inning and Kent then homered in the sixth inning.
“Why do we have to be friends? Why is that such a big deal?” Kent now asks.
It's clear all that mattered to Kent were results on the field and winning. His relationship with Bonds didn't matter as long as the Giants kept up their success.
The Giants twice won the NL West with Kent and Bonds teaming up together, and that same season the two tussled in the dugout, the Giants made it to the World Series.
"We played well. We relied on each other on the field to win. That’s all that matters: win," says Kent.