On October 5, 2001, a record was set that will never be broken. The greatest home run hitter since Babe Ruth hit his 71st home run of the season off Los Angeles’ right hander Chan Ho Park, breaking Mark McGwire’s single season home run record. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, a mark that stood until 1961, when Roger Maris, in a 162 game schedule, hit 61 home runs. Mark McGwire broke Maris’ record with an incredible 70 home runs in 1998, and three seasons later, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs.
Barry Bonds Ties Mark McGwire’s Record
It was late September, 2001 and time was running out for Barry Bonds. Prior to playing in Los Angeles, Barry Bonds’ Giants played a three game series in Houston. The Astros refused to pitch to Barry, whom they walked eight times. He was also hit by a pitch. Finally, in the ninth inning of the final game of the series, Barry got a pitch in the strike zone. He blasted Wilfredo Rodriguez’ delivery out of the park to tie the great McGwire’s record of 70 home runs in a single season. The team moved on to Los Angeles, and since Los Angeles was out of contention, Chan Ho Park gave Barry a pitch in the strike zone which made history.
Barry Bonds Was the Greatest Player of the 1990s
Barry’s teammate Eric Davis put things into perspective. ”Don’t critique history. ‘Don’t say this is why he’s doing it, or that is why he’s doing it. Just enjoy history. When you critique it, you miss out on what Barry is doing. It’s outstanding. It’s history.”
Eric Davis was right. Barry Bonds was the greatest player in the National League during the 1990s. Barry was the MVP three times during the decade, tying the record for the most MVP awards in a career. In 1993, Barry batted .336 and hit 46 home runs. Runner up David Justice hit 40, and only nine other players hit as many as 30 home runs. In 2001, Sammy Sosa hit 64 home runs, Luis Gonzalez hit 57, which was one more than the old record set by Hack Wilson in 1930, and seven other players hit as many as 38 home runs. Barry wasn’t the only one having a memorable offensive season.
1930 and 2001 Were Offensive Seasons
In 1930, the National League set many offensive records. The league batted a remarkable .303, teams averaged 5.68 runs a game, and Boston was the only team in the league that had a slugging average below .400. Besides setting a National League single season home record, Hack Wilson batted in 191 runs, a record that still stands. Bill Terry led the league with a .401 average, which is the last time a National Leaguer hit at least .400. In 2001, teams averaged 185 home runs and 12 of the 16 teams slugged over .400. The Mets’ .387 was the lowest team slugging average. Both 1930 and 2001 were offensive seasons and many offensive records were set.
Barry Bonds Was Dominating
Barry Bonds was dominating in 2001. His on base average, thanks to the fact that teams hesitated to pitch to him, was .515. His .863 slugging average broke Babe Ruth’s record of .849, but because he walked 177 times, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 170, Barry’s 411 total bases were topped by Luis Gonzalez’ 411 and Sammy Sosa’s 425. Ten players had as many as 125 RBIs, with Sammy Sosa’s 160 leading the pack.
Why Records Are Being Broken
Barry Bonds added to the total. In the first inning of the last game of the season, Barry hit his 73rd home run off Los Angeles’ right hander Dennis Springer, setting the record that will never be broken. Gerald Eskenazi, who covered sports for over forty years, pointed out that when he was a “sports mad kid in Brooklyn,” no one had run a mile in under 4 minutes, hit more than 60 home runs in a single season, pole vaulted 16 feet, high jumped 7 feet, run the 100 yard dash under 10 seconds, or shot putt 60 feet. Eskenazi provides some valid explanations for new records being set.
More individuals are involved in sports and there is a larger population pool, which means there is a greater depth of talent in all sports. Expansion makes setting records easier. The American League expanded in 1961, and Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s mark of 60 home runs in a season. Mark McGwire set his record of 70 home runs in an expansion year. Equipment has improved, training methods are better, and more is known about nutrition.
Barry Bonds Took Advantage of His Talent
Barry Bonds is one of the greatest of all players. In his younger years, he was a great defensive left fielder. He has 514 career stolen bases and is a member of the “40-40 club.” He is the all time career home run leader, topping Henry Aaron, who NEVER hit as many as 50 home runs in a season. The records go on and on, but one fact remains. Barry Bonds was one of the most talented of all players, he took advantage of his talent as few players have ever done, and he has set records that will be remembered as long as the game is played.
Barry Bonds exemplifies the values of the United States of American and most of its citizens.
Selena Roberts (2001, October 6). Bonds Breaks Homer Record, And Then Some. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)), p. A.1. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from ProQuest National Newspapers Expanded database. (Document ID: 83312846).
Gerald Eskenazi (2001, October 13). Breaking the Record, Time and Again :[Op-Ed]. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)), p. A.23. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from New York Times database. (Document ID: 84237219).