One thing I find myself almost unconsciously doing over the years is visiting BaseballReference.com and looking through the career numbers of Barry Bonds. Whatever your opinion of Bonds, some of his metrics are just mind-numbingly awesome and hard to believe. I’ll save a rant on 1992 Bonds for a later time, but just take a look at the peak of his head-growth and Bio-genisis mechanical swing:
2001 Bonds: 153 games, 73 HR, 177 walks, 32 doubles
2002 Bonds: 143 games, 46 HR, 198 walks (not a typo, really walked 198 times), 32 doubles
2003 Bonds: 130 games, 45 HR’s, 148 walks, 22 doubles
2004 Bonds: 147 games, 45 HRs, 232 FUCKING WALKS!!(120 intentional), 27 doubles
**So to summarize: Barry Bonds for four consecutive seasons either hit a home run, a double, or walked in EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. For four straight years.
It was May of 1993. My dad had started a yearly spring tradition the year before of going to Minneapolis to watch the Yankees play the Twins in the Metrodome. The Twins still had a strong core of players from 2 championship teams, and at this time had consistently more success than NY did in the decade leading up to this May series. My cousin Brad came along for this trip and my dad (Stick) figured out what hotel the Yankees were staying at. I was in 7th grade, Brad was in 8th. I remember getting to the hotel and before long we started to see our diamond heroes make their way through the lobby. We saw Don Mattingly. The Real Don Mattingly. Yes him: Mr. 6 (SIX!) Grand Slams in 1987. He signed our baseballs for us and this still stands out as an all-time moment. He was wearing a leather Planet Hollywood jacket. That is not a joke, I couldn’t make that up.
We ended up getting a few other players, and before long were out in the car pick-up area watching them make their way to the Metrodome. We said hello to Danny Tartabull, and as we did saw that Paul O’Neill quickly entered the bus behind him.
“Danny can you see if Paul will sign our baseball?” I asked him, and he answered “Yeah.”
Sure enough a moment later, Paul O’Neill got off the bus and signed both of our baseballs. Now O’Neill hadn’t been with the Yankees for too long, and at that time had not yet become “The Warrior” and the heart and soul of four World Series Championships in the Bronx. He had won a previous title with Cincinnatti in 1990, and now as I think back the trade straight-up O’Neill for Roberto Kelly seems like one of the great steals in the last 30 years of baseball. But on that day he listened to his teammates’ request for a couple young kids asking for him, and came off the bus. He did it for Cousin Brad and I and it was pretty awesome. Paul O’Neill got off the bus.