On Aug. 7, 2007, Barry Bonds officially became MLB’s all-time leader in home runs, sending his 756th career bomb into the seats at what was then called Oracle Park, breaking Hank Aaron’s record of more than three decades.
Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner at the time, was not in attendance for Bonds’ long-anticipated achievement. And as told plainly in Selig’s upcoming book, “For the Good of the Game,” he didn’t want to be.
Selig was infamously cautious in praising Bonds during the San Francisco Giant slugger’s record-breaking run amid controversy over the superstar’s alleged steroid use, which included a federal indictment on charges of perjury for lying during drug investigations. Years later, the commissioner has doubled down — and then some — on his distaste for MLB’s “asterisk” hero, recounting in an excerpt from his book the “misery” he encountered while traveling to watch Bonds’ pursuit of the home-run record.
“(The) summer of 2007 was unpleasant for me, and when I look back, that’s putting it mildly,” he writes. “It was one of the few times in my life I wasn’t excited about going to ballparks, and if you know me that’s all you need to know.”
Selig makes sure to note that “there was no way I was going to complain to anyone,” but he basically couldn’t stand watching Bonds become the new home run king.
“Everyone who knew me knew I was unhappy,” he says, at one point admitting Bonds “simply wasn’t likable” in contrast to Hank Aaron. “While I felt responsibility to be on hand for Bonds’s moment, I’ll admit I had a fantasy that I’d be spared when I went to Cooperstown to see (Cal) Ripken and (Tony) Gwynn be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nobody would have blamed me for being there rather than on the road with Barry. But I received no reprieve, so I trudged on.”
It’s not as if Selig is against home runs, either. Addressing the current record pace of homers across the leaguethis week, he downplayed the notion that lots of dingers are bad for baseball.
“Baseball is like everything else in life,” he said. “It goes through a lot of ups and downs … We go through certain phases. This is something that eventually will turn. Do I think it’s bad for the game? No, I really don’t think it’s bad for the game.”