Photo by Heather Middleton
Barry Bonds is baseball's all-time home run leader with 762. He batted .298 in a career that spanned 21 years. When he finally hung up his jersey, he had reached base with 2,935 hits. He should be a shoe-in to make baseball's Hall of Fame.
I say forget about it. There's just too much controversy surrounding the seven-time MVP.
Bond's baseball career was derailed in 2007 when he was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges for lying to a grand jury when he said he never knowingly took steroids.
It took nearly four years, but this week Bonds was found guilty on the obstruction of justice charge. The jury deadlocked on the other counts, and he could be retried on those chargers later.
Bonds has a reputation of being surly with managers, his own teammates and the media. He seems to have more critics than fans, but I don't think Bonds should go to jail.
Our prison system is clogged with people who have committed more serious offenses. Simply put, Bonds should just go away and never step foot in Cooperstown. There should be an asterisk by any and all his records, signifying some of his achievements might have been chemically enhanced.
Besides, despite what the record books say, Henry Aaron will always be baseball's home run king in my mind. Not because he played for the Atlanta Braves, but because he played the game with dignity and class.
My fascination with Henry Aaron began in Mrs. Parson's third grade Current Events class when we were assigned to write a celebrity or politician. I chose Aaron because I was a huge baseball fan, and he was in the middle of chasing down Babe Ruth to become baseball's all-time leading home run hitter.
Even though I lived in St. Louis at the time and loved the Cardinals, I wanted Aaron to break Ruth's record.
I couldn't wait to see the sports section each morning to find out if Aaron had got any closer to Ruth's record My father never spoiled it for me, even though he often knew the answer.
Aaron's home run chase made for great conversation for us around the breakfast table.
Weeks after sending off my letter, I received a packet from the Atlanta Braves with several pieces of Hank Aaron memorabilia inside. It took me years to understand Aaron never did actually read my letter.
It wasn't until years later when I finally learned not everybody wanted him to break Ruth's record. At times, what should have been a great time for the Braves' slugger, was a nightmare.
While I was sending him a letter wishing him good luck, racist idiots never could get past Aaron's skin color and often wrote harsh and threating letters. Fortunately, this third grader had parents who never tolerated that sort of backward thinking, and insulated me from the people who did.
I still remember the night Aaron took Dodger pitcher Al Downing deep to for his record-breaking 715th career home run. I was on spring break at my grandmother's house and watching the game in Louisville, Ky, on a small color television set in her guest room. Since dad had to stay home in Missouri to work, and my granddad had past away, I was the only male in the house.
When Aaron belted his home run, I started screaming at the top of my lungs. The women in the house didn't appreciate the fact that I had interrupted their movie, but I knew I had just witnessed baseball history.
At the time, I had to enjoy the moment alone. I was able to share my excitement the next day in a phone call to my father. It's a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
In the 36 years since Aaron's historical achievement, I have had a chance to hear him interviewed many times, and nothing has changed.
He's still a great ambassador for the game. He won't shy away from talking about the racial issues that surrounded the milestone, but he doesn't dwell on it. He realizes most fans embraced what he did.
It's still one of the greatest sports moments in my lifetime.
He ended his career in 1976 with 755 homers, 3,771 hits and a life-time batting average of .305.
If I ever get the privilege of visiting the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the first plaque and bio I want to check out is Aaron's.
He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Shame.
Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.