When Barry Bonds retired in 2007, he did so as baseball's home run king, a title he still holds a decade later. But, unlike most players who make it 22 years in the show, Bonds was still mashing when he hung it up. With 762 bombs at the time of his retirement, the never-before-seen total of 800 homers was within reach for Bonds, and in a recent interview the longtime San Francisco Giant explains that he wishes he would have hung around long enough to hit that milestone.
"Yeah, it should have only been nine (years ago)," Bonds told the AP on the 10-year anniversary of his breaking Hank Aaron's home run record. "I should have played one more year, I should have had the chance to."
The way Bonds tells it, no one let him make a go at 800. "I was just told I'm not coming back and that was it," he says.
At the time, Bonds said that even though the Giants wouldn't have him, arguably the greatest hitter in MLB history, he intended to play for another team. ''I would have loved nothing more than to retire as a Giant in the place where I call home and have shared so many momentous moments with all of you, but there is more baseball in me and I plan on continuing my career," he wrote on his website in September 2007.
But Bonds never found another team that was interested, despite the 1.045 OPS and 28 homers he put up at age 42.
Of course, Bonds' lack of suitors had nothing to do with his production. By the time Bonds retired he had come symbolize everything wrong with baseball's steroid era, which owners, fans and the league were desperate to but behind them. And breaking Aaron's record only made the animosity for Bonds worse. Fans outside of San Francisco routinely greeted him with boos as he approached one of the sports most hallowed records and were pissed when he broke it.
Inviting Bonds into the clubhouse would have been inviting a swarm of negative publicity, and not even a guaranteed 20 homers could make that worth the $15 million contract.
While Bonds will never get to 800, he is at least getting gradually closer to one thing he deserves: Enshrinement in Cooperstown. Earlier this year, 53.8% of baseball's writers voted for Bonds to make into the Hall of Fame. That was up nearly 10 percent from his previous high. Increasingly, fans and writers appear willing to accept Bonds greatness, regardless of whether it was chemically assisted.