Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

SAN FRANCISCO — Just before 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, Barry Bonds became the 10th player in Giants history to have his number retired. One of the previous nine spent part of Saturday’s ceremony stumping for Bonds to get further recognition. 

Willie Mays was one of several to give a speech Saturday, and he used part of his time to urge voters to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame. Through six years on the ballot, Bonds has not gotten particularly close. 

“The Hall of Fame, when you get there, you see, man, how could I get there,” Mays said. “And I want him to have that honor (and) be something that’s happened to him … vote this guy in.”

Bonds avoided any big picture talk, preferring instead to give an emotional speech in which he thanked family members, including his late father, his coaches going back to college, and teammates and others who stood by his side during one of the best careers in MLB history. Bonds had to stop speaking a couple of times because he was overcome by emotion. At the end, he had a simple message. 

“Thank you San Francisco,” he said. “Thank you for making all my dreams come true. Love you.” 

Five of the nine previous Giants to have their numbers retired were on hand for the ceremony. Mays, Bonds’ godfather, was joined by Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal. Bonds was joined on the field by family members — including his mom, who was escorted onto the field by Brandon Crawford — and former teammates, including Kirk Rueter, Robb Nen and Bobby Bonilla. 

Bruce Bochy sat alongside two other former Bonds managers, Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland. Video messages were sent by Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Pudge Rodriguez, Steve Kerr, Steph Curry and Tom Brady, who was booed so loudly that you couldn’t hear his message. The Giants even brought Eric

Gagne back to discuss a legendary confrontation that ended with a Bonds homer to dead center. Gagne said he wanted to challenge the best to do it, and he got beat. 

Bonds’ number was retired 25 years after he joined the Giants as a free agent. Team president and CEO Larry Baer remembered pitching Bonds to come to the Giants as he considered offers from the Yankees and Braves. 

“Barry, clearly choked up, said, ‘If I could come home again, you don’t know what it would mean to me,’” Baer remembered. “Barry came home, and today we make it official, that this ballpark will be his home forever.”

Former Giants closer Robb Nen pinpoints how Barry Bonds changed baseball

Former Giants closer Robb Nen pinpoints how Barry Bonds changed baseball

Robb Nen is one of the few pitchers to find success against Barry Bonds. It was a small sample size, however, as Bonds went 1-for-5 against Nen for his career. 

Oh yeah, that one hit was one of Bonds' 762 career home runs. Luckily for Nen, the former Giants All-Star closer witnessed Bonds' dominance as a teammate for five seasons from 1998-2002.

For Nen, it's simple -- Bonds is the greatest player he's ever seen. 

"I mean, the way that guy hit ... he was getting one pitch through the course of a game. Whether they were intentionally walking him or pitching around him or whatever the case may be, he didn't miss that [one] pitch. That's the most amazing part of it," Nen said Friday on KNBR

Nen alluded to one single moment that showed the pure dominance of Bonds. With the D'backs ahead 8-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Giants on May 28, 1998, Arizona decided to walk a run in and put Bonds on first base. His face says it all and shows just how terrified teams were of Bonds. 

Brent Mayne, hitting right behind Bonds, lined out to right field to end the game. 

"The kind of player he was, he was dynamic and changed the game, the whole dynamic of the game," Nen said. "For me, he's one of the best players ever in the game." 

The Giants are retiring Bonds' No. 25 jersey Saturday night at AT&T Park before they take on Bonds' original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Barry Bonds' Giants No. 25 'unofficially retired' years before jersey retirement

Barry Bonds' Giants No. 25 'unofficially retired' years before jersey retirement

SAN FRANCISCO — In a back room in the home clubhouse at AT&T Park, alongside spare jerseys, spikes and masks, there is a laminated roster. It shows the number for every player on the 40-man roster, along with three who never again will be. The numbers 18, 25 and 55 are highlighted in orange and have a designation of “hold.” 

The Giants will officially retire Barry Bonds’ 25 on Saturday night, and it’s unlikely any player in orange and black will ever again wear the numbers made so popular by Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. This is the “unofficially retired” numbers list, and after Saturday, it will consist of just two numbers. 

“It’s kind of an unspoken thing we have here,” said Brad Grems, the clubhouse coordinator.

Bonds hasn’t taken an at-bat for the Giants in 11 years, but there was never any chance that another Giant would wear his number. Mike Murphy made sure of that first, followed by Grems. Lincecum’s number has been put aside since he parted ways with the organization after the 2015 season.

Matt Moore wore 55 in Tampa Bay, but switched to 45 when he was traded to the Giants. Moore never even asked for 55, saying the number belonged to Lincecum. When he was traded to the Rangers in the offseason, Moore went back to 55. 

As always, when Grems gets to spring training next year, 18 and 55 will once again be outside of the rotation, no matter how many players might fill the room. Cain has only been gone a few months, but he already is on the organization’s Wall of Fame and it seems a good bet a number retirement ceremony is coming in the next couple of years.

Lincecum’s situation may be a bit more complicated, if only because he hasn’t officially retired and, quite frankly, he is difficult to find. The Giants have had trouble tracking him down at times, even during his playing days, but they plan to run him through the full gamut of ceremonies one day if he is willing. 

For now, the focus will be on Bonds. His 25 will be retired in a ceremony that starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday before the Giants play the Pirates, Bonds’ first team. It will be just the 10th number retired by the Giants, joining 3 (Bill Terry), 4 (Mel Ott), 11 (Carl Hubbell), 20 (Monte Irvin), 24 (Willie Mays), 27 (Juan Marichal), 30 (Orlando Cepeda), 36 (Gaylord Perry) and 44 (Willie McCovey).

Jackie Robinson’s 42 is retired throughout the game.