Barry Bonds launched an 84-mph pitch deep into the San Francisco night, and then almost immediately, launched his arms into the air to celebrate his accomplishment: Bonds had hit No.756 and surpassed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run king. “I knew I hit it,” Bonds said. “I knew I got it. I was like, phew, finally.”
That he “got it” is an understatement. Bonds broke sports’ most hallowed record with a 435-foot prodigious blast that more closely resembled a Ruthian clout than Hammerin’ Hank’s yeoman-like line drives. Hitting in the fifth inning in a full count with one out, Bonds belted a Mike Bacsik pitch to the right-centerfield bleachers—the deepest section of the ballpark—and when it finally landed, 22-year-old Matt Murphy of Queens suddenly possessed a priceless piece of history and Bonds sat alone atop baseball’s most storied list.
A 10-minute tribute to Bonds followed the record-breaking bash, which included a surprising congratulatory video from Aaron himself. Aaron, who repeatedly affirmed he had no interest in witnessing or taking part in the breaking of his 33-year-old mark, praised Bonds for achieving such historic success. “It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination,” he said. “Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.”
During the festivities, Bonds thanked his family, the San Francisco fans, the Nationals, his father and Aaron for supporting him. “When I saw Hank Aaron that made everything,” Bonds said. “We’ve always loved him. He’s always the home run king.” At least according to the record books, however, that title now belongs to Bonds.