After a ten-year campaign, MLB’s all-time home run leader* Barry Bonds is officially off the ballot for the Hall of Fame. Going forward, his candidacy rests in the hands of the various committees that MLB and the Hall have put together for special additions. In other words, it’s pretty unlikely that he gets in during his lifetime.
But we’re not here to have that debate. Instead, I just wanted to remember one of the most defining moments of his career – the moment for which he’ll always be remembered: that time he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
And to discuss what actually happened AFTER that infamous, cowardly … and probably very wise intentional walk.
20 years ago today, @BarryBonds was intentionally walked.
With the bases loaded…. pic.twitter.com/n045dA11JJ
— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 28, 2018
Without the benefit of the signaled intentional walk we have today, and despite a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, pitcher Greg Olson was forced to sit there in front of all of those fans and walk Bonds on four straight pitches. I don’t know much about Olson as a person, but I do know most athletes are very competitive … so that must’ve killed him inside (especially in that era, when gamesmanship of this level wasn’t really in style).
But, hey, it worked!
While Bonds’ walk brought the Giants within one run, the next batter, Brent Mayne, lined out to the right fielder to end the game. The Diamondbacks manager, Buck Showalter, had to say about the decision: “In that case, and I was looking at it and I could see if you did the math, where [Bonds] would fall in the batting order,” Showalter said. “You have to understand, he didn’t start that game — he came in as a pinch hitter earlier. Jeff Kent, who was having a typical MVP year was not hitting behind him. And I love Brent Mayne, good major league player, but he wasn’t Jeff Kent and he wasn’t Barry Bonds so you had to pick your poison.”
Even still … I would have loved to be inside Olson’s head when he got the sign from Showalter to walk in a run on purpose.
Here’s Bonds take on the moment from about a year ago.
"I was shocked at first!"@BarryBonds was just as shocked as the rest of us when he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded 😅
— MLB (@MLB) February 22, 2021