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.