Was Barry Bonds really able to save his biggest homers for Oracle Park?


If you try to get through a few minutes of a day without sports by pulling up Barry Bonds highlights, you might notice something peculiar. Every time Bonds reached a home run milestone, he did so in front of his home fans. In a new book, the all-time home run king claims that was no coincidence. 

Bonds is a key figure in "Intangibles," local author Joan Ryan's book about team chemistry, which largely is focused on the Giants. Ryan sat down with Bonds for a lengthy interview about team chemistry and his role in the clubhouse. In the midst of the conversation Bonds mentioned that he purposely hit important home runs at Oracle Park. 

"You either have to know what the hell you're doing or you'd have to be the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet," Bonds told Ryan. "I was the master. My IQ and skill on the baseball field was such that I could do it whenever I wanted to. Whenever I needed to. Didn't matter who was on the mound. And the only time I was going to do it (hit milestone home runs) was at home in front of my family, and San Francisco is my family."

As Ryan points out, the record books back Bonds' account. He reached 500, 600 and 700 homers at home and passed Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron at home. The most curious stretch might be April of 2004, when Bonds passed Willie Mays. He entered that season with 658 homers, just two shy of Mays, and he took Roy Oswalt deep on Opening Day in Houston. Bonds didn't homer on the final five games of that season-opening road trip, but tied Mays in the home opener, with Mays then coming out and embracing him in front of the dugout. Bonds passed his godfather the next day. 

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Was Bonds truly able to homer on demand? Of course not. But there's at least some evidence that suggests he was such a genius with a bat in his hands that he was able to guarantee his biggest moments came in front of Giants fans.

The book includes other similar anecdotes, but the focus when it comes to Bonds is on another area of the game. Ryan set out to figure out how important chemistry is in sports, and much of the book is focused on Bonds, who had a prickly reputation. On Thursday's Giants Insider Podcast, Ryan and Mike Krukow discussed the book and Bonds' role in the clubhouse. 

"I went into the book saying that's my super-disruptor, right, because I was in those clubhouses with him, covering him," Ryan said. "And then I talked to his teammates and they said, 'No, he wasn't a cancer in the clubhouse.'"

"Intangibles" also includes long discussions about Aubrey Huff, a surprising leader of that 2010 team and Matt Duffy, who was an extremely popular Giant before a 2016 trade that Krukow said gutted the organization. You can listen to Ryan and Krukow's discussion about team chemistry here or download the podcast on iTunes here.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

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