It was a game that was meaningless in the standings, but it was a game that established a record that will never, ever be broken.

Russ Springer was on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Barry Bonds was the batter.

It was the first inning of the San Francisco Giants’ final game of the 2001 season.

The bases were empty with two outs. Springer got the signal from his catcher, Chad Kreuter, nodded assent, went into the windup, and delivered.

Barry Bonds hit his 73rd home run into the arcade above the right field fence. Barry circled the bases, crossed home plate, raised his arms above his head, and pointed his forefingers to the heavens.

The Giants won the game, 2-1, and to Barry Bonds, it mattered.

“This was a great, great way to end it, with a victory and a home run. You can’t ask for anything better. I never thought I could do it.”

Barry Bonds oozed greatness and modesty. He actually said that he didn’t think he could do it. Isn’t that unbelievable? It is, isn’t it?

Two nights before, Barry broke Mark McGwire’s single season record when he blasted a pair of home runs. At the time, the new home run champion issued a word of caution.

“I don’t know if it’s going to exist next year.”

In 2001, Sammy Sosa (64), Luis Gonzalez (57), and Alex Rodriguez (52) hit over 50 home runs. The home run sluggers were becoming more formidable and numerous.

An amazing statistic is that Barry hit a home run every 6.52 at bats, topping McGwire’s rate of 7.27.

When Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, all the Babe could manage was a home run every 9.0 at bats.

Roger Maris, who set his record in the first season the American League went from a 154-game schedule to a 162-game schedule, hit a home run every 9.7 at bats.

Mark McGwire attempted to provide some perspective.

“It’s a crazy number and we all thought it was crazy at the end of ’98. But now we’re looking at it like it’s not crazy. That’s just the way the game’s gone; there’s so much offense.”

Tony Gwynn, who never hit many home runs but who knew a little about getting base hits, made an interesting statement.

“I don’t know where it’s going to end.”

Barry told the media that the game had changed and “…whatever happens in the future, we should allow it to happen on its own and not question it.”

Sadly, some individuals have not heeded Barry’s advice,

Barry made 2001 a bad season for Babe Ruth. The Giants’ slugger broke the Babe’s single season record for walks (177 to 170), and broke Ruth’s single season slugging average (.863 to .847).

Baseball Digest selected Barry as its Player of the Year for 2001. The respected periodical noted that Barry’s accomplishments embellished the final seasons of future Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.

“And five years after he leaves the game, so will Bonds (be elected to the Hall of Fame). That’s a given.”


Kuenster, John. “Player of the Year Barry Bonds Had a Season For the Ages.” Baseball Digest . Jan. 2002.

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