On the night of April 9, 1974 I was an 11 year old watching with hopeful anticipation NBC's live telecasr of the LA Dodgers-Atlanta Braves game. I was hoping I'd get to see Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth's home run record before I had to go to bed.
I really didn't need to worry about that because this was one night my parents weren't enforcing my 10 PM CST bedtime. I was watching history in the making so I was going to be allowed to stay up until it happened.
At 8:07 PM CST in the fourth inning, Al Downing threw the fastball that ended up being blasted by Aaron 385 feet over the fence at the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium for the record breaking homer. After watching all the ensuing hoopla, celebrations and speeches I ended up crawling into bed right on schedule.
Hammerin' Hank eventually pushed that record to 755 before he retired at the end of the 1976 season as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. At the time, there was debate on whether the new record would be broken. I knew that it would probably happen someday. I wasn't like the folks in Babe Ruth's era who thought that no one would break his record of 714 homers. I doubt that they even considered the possibility that it would be broken by an African-American.
Enter Barry Bonds. Son of a major league ballplayer and godson of legendary home run king Willie Mays. Would seem to be the perfect story for baseball history.
But since Bonds has had a tempestuous relationship with sportswriters over his career, he has been reviled and criticized by them for what seems like ages. And since many of those sportswriters are of a lighter pigmentation, the negative rhetoric coming from their mouths about him borders on racist Pavlovian foaming at the mouth.
He has the opposite reputation with his fellow major league ballplayers.
He's been accused of taking steroids, but his critics conveniently gloss over the fact that he's never failed a drug test. All they have are circumstantial accusations of use. Before I judge Barry Bonds, I want more than circumstantial evidence so that I can make a reasoned and thoughtfully logical decision on whether he did or didn't and then react accordingly. Until that evidence comes forth from the 'He Cheated' crowd, I'm going to continue to enjoy watching him blast home runs into McCovey Cove or out of whatever major league ballpark he happens to be playing in.
I've gotten to the point that I'm sick of the monotonous Barry bashing, the calls for stripping him of the record, the calls for Major League baseball Commissioner Bud Selig not to be there the night (or day) he hits home run 756, the inflated, biased opinions of (white) sportswriters that he's cheated, blah blah blah.
I'm a little angry and disappointed that after all the hate mail and death threats that Hank Aaron received in the run up to his breaking Babe Ruth's record 37 years ago, that he of all people would have empathy for Bonds' plight. It's gleefully being reported that Aaron says that he won't be in whatever major league stadium Barry breaks his record in, even if it's in Atlanta.
So why are y'all and much of the general public chomping on generous portions of Hater Tots when it comes to Barry Bonds? He hit homer number 751 last night in Cincinnati and is only five homers shy from breaking the record.
The bottom line is I don't hear any hue and cry from those same white sports writers and many white baseball fans to strip Mark McGwire of his 1998 single season season home run record of 70 homers (which Barry broke when he hit 73 dingers in 2001). He was evasive in front of Congress back in 2005 when called to testify on the issue along with Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro.
It's known McGwire used andro, which was LEGAL at the time but later banned. Palmeiro tested positive a few months AFTER stating he'd never used them during that March 2005 hearing.
Where's all your outrage about that? Where's your outrage at Major League Baseball and Commissioner Selig for allowing it to happen in the first place?
Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time and it may be a few decades before you see another like him. Seven time NL MVP. Voted once again as a starter on the All-Star Team. 22 years in the majors.
You Barry bashers need to come clean on the fact that some of you are conveniently dumping all your frustrations on his doorstep for what's happened in baseball concerning the steroid issue and it's being aided and abetted by some peeps who have personal axes to grind with him.
The 'Hate on Barry' mantra isn't endearing to many African-American baseball fans like myself. In a time when major league baseball is frantically searching for ways to bring African-Americans back to the ballparks and get them interested in the game again, you're trashing an African-American superstar who's on the cusp of breaking a historic record.
I don't want to hear another negative word uttered from a sportswriter or a non African-American baseball fan about Barry Bonds. It's obvious when it comes to him y'all are about as 'fair and balanced' as Faux News on the subject.