Bonds, Barry Lamar

Bonds, Barry Lamar, 1964–, American baseball player, b. Riverside, Calif. Bonds grew up surrounded by baseball; his father, Bobby Bonds, was a San Francisco Giants outfielder (1968–74), and the great Willie Mays was his godfather. Bonds left Arizona State Univ. to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, and just four years later he was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player (MVP). In 1992 he was again MVP, and as a free agent signed a lucrative contract with the San Francisco Giants. The next season the left-handed power hitter and Gold Glove–winning outfielder again was named MVP and led the NL in home runs and runs batted in.

In 2001, Bonds made baseball history by smacking 73 homers, surpassing by three Mark McGwire's 1998 record. Bonds also shattered two of Babe Ruth's long-standing records—the 81-year-old slugging record (Ruth's was .847; Bonds' .863) and the 78-year-old record for walks in a season (Ruth had 170, Bonds 177)—and won his fourth MVP, a record until he was again the MVP in 2002 and 2003. In 2004 he set new season walks (232) and on-base percentage (.609) records, surpassing ones he set two years before. Bonds also ranks first on the career home-runs list, having reached the 700-homer mark in 2004 after 13 consecutive 30-home-run seasons, breaking Jimmie Foxx's record of 12 seasons, and having passed Hank Aaron's lifetime major-league record of 755 in 2007. A scandal that began in 2003 and involved the use of anabolic steroids by various athletes implicated Bonds, who denied knowingly using steroids, but his alleged use has tainted his achievements in the eyes of many fans. In Nov., 2007, he was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice with respect to an investigation into the 2003 scandal; he was found guilty of obstruction of justice in 2011, but that conviction was overturned in 2015.

See M. Fainaru-Wada and L. Williams, Game of Shadows (2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Sports: Biographies