Two strides from the batting cage, Barry Bonds stands side by side with Julio Franco, the oldest man to do just about anything in baseball. Franco actually broke into the show the same year “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was a comedic hit … also the same year Toto had the No. 1 album. Needless to say, he has the most in common with the 40-something Bonds. The two men, who are seemingly built 10 years younger, continue to joke, laugh and enjoy the time around the batting cage, just feet away clicks of the camera almost drowning out the cracks of the bat.
Photographers and reporters literally climb over each other to get the perfect shot of Bonds as he casually ends his animated conversation with Franco and then strolls into the cage. In the bleachers, fans hold nets, gloves and hats, hoping to snare a batting practice home run from the slugger. The scene here is so different than the one I have witnessed in Los Angeles or San Diego, for example. Despite the controversy surrounding Bonds, the BALCO scandal and the home run chase itself, fans in the city by the bay continue with their adoration at numbers directly opposite from most of the country. They cheer his every move and scream his name at every chance.
By game time, the famous San Francisco fog has moved in once again. Since my time as a kid sitting at Candlestick Park, Mark Twain's words have always been so perfect: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Across the bay, I see sunshine and certainly high temperatures in the 80s and 90s, but here in China Basin the chill has begun.
For so many San Franciscans, AT&T Park is like Hawaii in the dead of winter, when compared the Giants' old stomping grounds on Candlestick Point.
By mid-game, the rumors were running through the press box without hesitation. Randomly, photographers would grab cameras and reporters would hold mics, but each time some of us would chuckle, as Selig would be shown in a luxury box watching the game, nowhere near the crammed quarters preparing for his arrival.
As Bonds fails to deliver 754, Selig finally was escorted from his luxury box to the press one by Giants' owner Peter McGowan. At this time, the game is in full swing and the Giants fail to disappoint in a disappointing season, with a four run deficit. For about 30 minutes, the commissioner continues his ability to avoid the steroid controversy at all costs and some of us in the room get the feeling that Selig has been forced here, but he won’t admit it. He also contends that baseball has done all it can to stop the spread and use of performance-enhancing drugs and the sport acted quickly when word was first spreading about the use of steroids. From my time in the minor leagues in the mid-90s, I know that excuse is about as valid as my fastball hitting. 95 miles per hour … basically no chance.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball may not have been public knowledge, but there is no doubt from my time in the minor leagues that both player reps and the teams themselves had suspicion and knowledge. I heard it and knew it was being used. All the players knew the danger; thankfully many of us didn't try it.
Selig finally finishes and the local TV media is a bit upset. The impromptu press conference was in the back corner of the press box and the print reporters had the first few standing rows; cameras for the most part were perched on photographer heads and the pictures couldn't have been very steady. I felt for some of the guys after about five minutes. You could see the pain in their faces as they struggled to hold the camera high and get a shot of Selig.
By 10:45 p.m. it was clear that this game wasn't ending soon and Barry was a bit off on his swing. There was only one walk to the slugger and the Braves challenged him with fastballs. Thousands of flashes sparkled through the stadium upon every mighty cut and Bonds was taking some mighty cuts. There were several where the lefty screwed himself into the ground; even the sports writers who normally remain library-like quiet, “oohed’ and “aahed” at every massive swing. In the end, the game finished like many lately for Giants fans, their team lost and Barry still sits two away from tying the magical 755.
Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. Most recently, Housley reported from President Ford's funeral. He also reported from Nicaragua and El Salvador on the war against drugs and scored an exclusive interview with Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega. You can read his full bio here.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.