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Bonds' milestone lingers a day later

Giants' Barry Bonds gets blanketed with cheers and adoration after his latest achievement.

©Associated Press
August 11, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- The morning after Barry Bonds joined one of baseball's most exclusive home run clubs, he wandered through the Giants clubhouse carrying a large wicker basket.

"You guys want some pot stickers?" Bonds asked, lifting the lid to reveal an incredible number of the Chinese appetizer.

There were a variety of responses at Pacific Bell Park to Bonds' 600th homer, which put him in the company of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

Bonds, his wife and his father all felt relief. Jay Arsenault, the man who got a bloody face while catching the ball, saw dollar signs.

The Giants front office responded with pot stickers, a meat-filled delicacy. The others simply appreciated it, blanketing Bonds with cheers on Friday night and on Saturday, when Bonds stayed in the lineup to contribute to the playoff chase despite a torn hamstring that prevents him from sprinting.

"We all need to play," Bonds said. "We're down to the part of the season where it's gut-wrenching time. . . . I don't worry about the history right now."

The atmosphere from Bonds' latest magical night hadn't evaporated on Saturday -- and neither had his penchant for making history. Bonds broke Willie McCovey's major-league record for intentional walks in a season, drawing three to give him 46. McCovey had 45 in 1969 with the Giants.

At Pac Bell, the emblem on the leftfield wall honoring Bonds' homer achievement will be a constant reminder of his 421-foot solo shot in the sixth inning against right-hander Kip Wells, who got the win in the Pirates' 4-3 victory.

Bonds rounded the bases against a backdrop of roars and fireworks.

He hadn't even hugged his daughter when the questions began: Just how far can Bonds climb on baseball's career homers list?

Bonds, who turned 38 late last month, says he won't play beyond his current contract: a four-year deal he signed before the season. But his balky hamstring notwithstanding, Bonds is still in phenomenal physical condition, and there's no reason to think he can't continue at something close to his amazing homer pace over the past two seasons -- particularly after an offseason of rest.

"Every year it gets harder," Bonds said. "It's tougher on me."

What's next on the milestone list? Mays, his godfather, at 660.

"He's the best player I've ever seen," teammate Shawon Dunston said. "I realized it in 1996. He hits his home runs too easily. We just take him for granted because he hits them so easy."

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