Branding No. 756 ball will ensure right history will live on

By Dave Fultz

For those who did not hear, Barry Bonds threatened to boycott his possible induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Last week, Bonds announced that if the ball he smacked into the stands to break Hank Aaron’s record to become the all-time Home Run King – Number 756 – was put on display in Cooperstown with an asterisk adorning it, he would not attend his own induction.

I can almost hear it being whispered over an Iowa corn field now: “If they show it, he won’t come.”

But I will not play Ray Kinsella, and I will not try to soothe the ghosts of baseball past just so that a once-great but now disgraced star can have one last day in the sun.

Since he obliterated the single season home run record in 2001, Bonds has become a dirty word in baseball, to go along with all the other four-letter words that fans have called him.

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    In the last two seasons, he has passed baseball royalty – Aaron and Babe Ruth – and watched them fade away in his rearview mirror. And all the while the media and fans have questioned his every move.

    These questions have cropped up more and more over the last few months and have prompted the actions that riled Bonds last week.

    Amid the rumors of wrongdoing, fashion designer Marc Ecko bought up good ol’ Number 756 in an online auction and set up a Web site for fans to vote on the fate of the ball.

    The fans have spoken, and the ball is to be branded with an asterisk and sent to the Hall of Fame, presumably to signify the allegations that Bonds took steroids on his way to the record.

    The fans have certainly been heard, but now, more than ever, Bonds wants to call the shots on his own legacy.

    Bonds told MSNBC last week that he feels he was unfairly targeted by Major League Baseball in its investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs by players.

    While this may or may not be true, there was no way that MLB could have done anything but investigate Bonds heavily after the much publicized “Game of Shadows” was released last year by a pair of reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds’s hometown paper.

    The book documented Bonds’s alleged involvement with the BALCO laboratory in San Francisco and the “mountain of evidence” that authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams put together detailing his exploits.

    If you consider yourself a baseball fan and are not sure about Bonds just yet, read “Game of Shadows.”

    If you do not have time to read the whole thing, just take a look at the appendices in the back of the book.

    And if you can’t spare the extra dough for the book or don’t have a library card, you can give me a call and I will let you borrow it for a couple of days.

    When you finish reading the hard evidence within the pages of the book, it helps alleviate the majority of the doubts about what actually happened. And whether Bonds likes it or not, the fans have taken this information and branded No. 756.

    Now, Bonds has said he will boycott the Hall’s call, if it ever comes. We will all have to wait a bit to see the outcome of this ultimatum because the first opportunity for Bonds to make good on his promise will not come until at least five years after he retires.

    Bonds batted .276 with 28 HRs and 66 RBIs in this season and is not about to hang up his cleats just yet.

    He filed for free agency on the first possible day and the Giants have already stated they will not be bringing back their troubled superstar.

    It is hard to say where he will end up, but it is even harder to believe that Bonds, still a very effective hitter at 43, will not find a team that is willing to pay him next season.

    For now, Bonds is stuck on 762 until next spring and is threatening a boycott of Cooperstown in a last ditch effort to salvage one last bit of his legacy.

    Admitting that Bonds is the all-time Home Run King is something that will never come easily to me. But knowing that the asterisk emblazoned across the face of Number 756 will educate young kids about the Bonds controversy gives me some solace.

    So Barry, it is OK if you want to stay home. No. 756 will always be there and will always tell the story.

    Dave Fultz is a junior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].