Ten years ago Monday, baseball’s most cherished record was broken. Yet a decade later, it is an event that is more reviled than celebrated.
On August 7, 2007 at 11:51 p.m. ET, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds smacked a 3-2 pitch from Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik in the bottom of the fifth inning into the right centerfield seats at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
It was career home run number 756 for Bonds, one more than home run king Hank Aaron who himself broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714 in 1974. But #756 came with the most significant asterisk in sports history, even though there isn’t an official asterisk in Major League Baseball’s record book.
Bonds has long been suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, so much so, baseball writers have refused to elect him to the Hall of Fame.
Baseball is a sport, like no other, that is chronicled by time treasured statistics. Numbers like 511 (Cy Young’s career wins record), 56 (Joe DiMaggio’s record hit streak) and until 10 years ago 755 (Aaron’s career home run total).
You’d be hard pressed to get a correct answer to the question, “How many career home runs did Barry Bonds hit?” The answer is 756*.
That number deserves an asterisk, even though Bonds was never caught using the performance enhancing substances known as “the cream” and “the clear.” They were undetectable, untraceable, and turned America’s Pastime upside down.
It also ruined baseball’s most revered career achievement, now left to be a twisted trivia question.