SAN FRANCISCO – It's one of those moments in sports that will be replayed years from now, but why it will be replayed has yet to be determined. Will it be the night the Giants slugger overcame a scandal and persevered to become the home-run king when he said he was innocent all along or will the drive to center be described as what could have been a hall-of-famer who succumbed to the pressure of success?
Skeptics still insist Barry Bonds cheated and an investigation remains open, but Barry, some teammates and people here in San Francisco will say, is innocent until proven guilty.
From our perch above the right field wall at AT&T Park, we watched the ball sail about 40 yards to our right as we faced the field. Fans in our area, like the 42,000 or so around the stadium, erupted in jubilation.
Fireworks shot from both inside the stadium and out across McCovey Cove. The $10 beer, $6 soda and other overpriced food and drink flew in all directions. We did our best to stay dry, but our camera lens got splattered as our FOX photographer, Lance LaraLin, forced his way through the crowd.
We made our way through the pandemonium, heading toward where the ball fell. Over the rail I saw several hundred fans celebrating in boats, canoes, kayaks — even while wearing wet suits on surfboards.
On a night that would have made even native San Franciscans shiver, the air — in the bay, near the stadium, beyond right field not far from right center field (where Bonds hit the ball) — suddenly became much warmer. Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run and broke 'Hammerin' Hank Aaron's record.
Later in the night, a couple of college students from Medford, Ore., who came just to float and try to get the ball, said almost the exact same thing to me as they waded out of the bay looking like they had suffered frostbite — of course, they had enjoyed a few adult beverages along the way.
We made it to the top of the aisle, my cell phone still not getting a signal to call in for a live report. Everyone must have been on the phone. In that short time as Barry crossed home plate to greet his family, fans were doing one of three things: taking pictures, throwing food or making cell phone calls to tell someone something they likely already knew.
Just a couple of rows from the field, we met Eric Piazza — baseball fans will see the irony here in many ways. He recounted how just a couple of moments before the ball landed nearby, nobody had caught it and it rolled down the aisle as a million-dollar pile-up ensued.
Next to Piazza, medics treated a heavyset young man in his 30s and police officers took statements. His wife traded barbs with ushers as the family, and even some others, argued that the ball was beaten from him. We could have another baseball court case on our hands.
As we heard the case in the bleachers, others nearby told me the guy who came up with the ball was ... a Mets fan. I guess by San Francisco standards it could have been worse; the guy could have been wearing a Dodgers jersey.
Once the interviews were done (argument ongoing), we bounded up the stairs as 'Hammerin' Hank himself appeared on the jumbotron. That was the surprise that Giants COO Larry Baer told me about in San Diego. Well, he actually never said Aaron would be part of the celebration, but it definitely was on my mind when he said the Giants would stop the game, Barry's family would come on the field, the slugger would make a short statement and "there will be one surprise."
Aaron was quite a surprise, and on a television the size of the side of a one-story home, you could see the emotion on Barry's face as he spoke.
The bleachers still were uninhabitable as we waded back to the arcade, which is really just a 20-foot-wide section above the right field wall where a couple rows of seats are backed by a standing-room-only section. Finally, the beer throwing stopped and consumption resumed.
• Mets Fan Emerges From Bleachers With Record-Breaking Bonds Baseball
Within a couple of minutes, Lance and I made it to our truck as the game ended with a Giants loss. We finished our last live report about a half-hour later and hustled against the tide of people leaving the park, in time to make a press conference.
Barry Bonds entered a room overstuffed with media types in the depths of AT&T Park with his mother, three kids and other family members in tow. The closeness of Bonds was a bit unnerving. I actually got a seat in the front row because, at 6-foot-3," I was blocking the view of other people who were standing on the side.
Of course, then I had to slouch to make sure I didn't block the cameras from the back of the room. For the first time in my life, I understood what Manute Bol must have felt like when he went to the movies and didn't sit in the back row. I know, I am dating myself, but heck.
Bonds did his best to show personality as questions were passed about the room. He mentioned he is a guy who like to keep things private. He became a bit aggravated at two questions regarding the steroid controversy. Both questions were immediately shut down, including the reporters who asked them.
Early on, I asked Barry about Aaron's congratulations on the scoreboard. Later, as the 30-minute talk ended, I followed with, "Are you going, have you thought about, have you spoken to the Giants or anyone about coming back to play next year?"
Barry smiled and winked at me, a big smile crossed his face and like many other questions, he really didn't answer it. After the season he and the Giants will decide the future — or something like that.
My question was followed by a Japanese reporter, who thanked famous Japanese home-run hitter Sadaharu Oh and never really managed to ask whether Barry was thinking about his Japanese record of 800-something dingers.
The room burst into applause as Barry and his family got up to leave. As I stood, the slugger leaned forward and extended a hand. I shook it and realized that, one day, I, too, will have a moment to replay.
Will it be the time the home-run champ realized the last 16 days and 15 games I followed him really were fun or will I remember this handshake as the time a great player surpassed a record with an asterisk?
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.