SAN FRANCISCO – The plan was for Willie Mays to simply sit on the field with other Giants during the Barry Bonds jersey retirement ceremony. And even after Mays had asked to say a few words, they brought him a handheld microphone so he could stay there.
But the Say Hey Kid, even at 87, still has reach. He insisted on marching to the podium. "If I say something," Mays said to the crowd with that still boyish high voice, "I want everyone to hear it."
When he was done, it was clear that Mays wanted to hear his message the way to Cooperstown.
"On behalf of all the people in San Francisco and across the country, pick this guy in," he said, candidly standing for the inclusion of bonds in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mays continued to talk, but the rest of his sentence was drowned out by 41,209 fans in AT & T Park.
The jubilation, and the many who followed, made it clear on Saturday night that this ballpark remains the refuge of Bonds, his paradise of unconditional love. It's a place where he remains so immune to the steroid controversy that the election of the Hall of Fame would have been unanimous during the 75-minute ceremony that delayed the start of the Giants' game against Pittsburgh.
Damn, that night Bonds even hugged a Dodger. Eric Gagne, a former gasoline launcher who launched one of Bonds' 762 home runs, made a surprise appearance as he came to the court to greet a thug he called "the best player ever".
The style of "This is your life" expression led to Tears of Bonds choking several times while talking about the reason why he wore No. 25 at all. Bonds chose this number shortly after signing with the Giants in 1993 because his father, Bobby Bonds, put up No. 25 for San Francisco from 1968-74, often while playing alongside Mays.
Bonds sometimes looked skyward and sometimes decided to speak directly to Bobby. "Dad," he said, fighting his feelings, "much of my day is missing without you."
Bobby Bonds was tough on Barry when he grew up in Riverside and later in San Carlos. If Barry made two home races in a Little League game, Bobby would sniff, "Good, meet two more tomorrow."
Bond fell silent for a few moments while trying to tell a deathbed interview with Bobby, who died in 2003 at the age of 57.
"Dad, why were you so hard on me," the son asked.
"Because I loved you so much," the father answered. "And I'm so proud of you, I knew that as long as you were going to get my approval, nothing would stop you from being the best you could be."
Now No. 25 will never be worn again. Bonds becomes the player of the 11th Giants, who is so honored, Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Mays, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda (30), Gaylord Perry (36) and Willie McCovey (44). The Giants, like all other Major League teams, also drew Jackie Robinson (42).
His tribute on Saturday included a video montage reminiscent of a bygone era in San Francisco when Bond's 'Home Run' from 1993-2007 exploited enthusiastic fans. At McCovey Cove, there were 35 floating buoys for the landing of the so-called "splash hits" of the bonds. (The rest of the Giants has been 43 since the opening of the park in 2000).
Mike Krukov, who teamed up with broadcast partner Duane Kuiper as the Master of Ceremonies, recalled how these At-Bat fans linked everything from ballparks to sports bars to living room recliners.
"Suddenly Bonds is up and we stop," Krukov said. "The room would be quiet and the volume would turn up and we would go and bust the manager who accompanied him.
"But in that magical moment he made 586 times in a Giants uniform, with the nice momentum built for the average and for the strength, he would beat him out of the ballpark – he had the biggest trot And we would leave our places and high-five and embrace strangers, he has united us all, us, the most diverse city in the world. "
Bonds won seven MVP Awards. Nobody else has more than three. He was a 14-time All-Star and a 12-time Silver Slugger and eight-time Gold Glove winner.
Bonds scored a season record in 2001 with 73 long balls. He surpassed Hank Aaron's career on August 4, 2007 with 755.
In those intoxicating days, bonds were booed in the street and often pilloried by the press, especially as speculation about his use of performance-enhancing drugs surged. He never came close to the Hall of Fame in his six years on the poll, with 56.4 percent last year. (It takes 75 percent to be recorded.)
Apart from Mays, the only other guest speaker to mention Cooperstown on Saturday was former pitcher Kirk Rüter. "Woody," as the fan favorite was called, spent 10 seasons as Bond's teammate and also took part in his "Wall of Fame" tribute a year ago.
"The next time I see him … I want to include the letters" YARD "," said Rueter.
Bonds laughed and clapped enthusiastically.
The ceremony also had its light moments. They played several recorded fortune-telling news from sports stars on the video board, but Buhs drowned tribute from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Like Bond, attends Brady Serra high school in San Mateo).
Bay Area icons like Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Stephen Curry, and Steve Kerr received a more enthusiastic response. "There was nothing more exciting than getting on your plate," said Montana.
Bonds spoke for 16 minutes and 45 seconds, mostly in a measured tone, to keep his emotions in check. But he has become strong.
"Thanks San Francisco," he said. "Thank you for making all my dreams come true."
San Francisco Giants Slugger had withdrawn his number on August 11, 2018. Here's a look back at his career. (Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area News Group)
San Francisco Giants coach Bobby Bonds, left, follows his son Barry, right, off the field at the Giants spring training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, on February 25, 1993. (AP Photo / Gary Stewart)
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Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants sits before a game in March 1993 on the pitch. (AP Photo / Eric Risberg)
Barry Bonds of San Francisco Giants beats the first of three consecutive homers against Milwaukee Brewers' starter Cal Eldred, while Brewers & # 39; Catcher David Nilsson, left, on the first inning Sunday, Aug. 22, 1999, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo / Gary Dineen)
Barry Bonds is battling for the infield after his first of two run-homers against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 1, 1993 in Los Angeles. Bonds became the first player to win four Most Valuable Player Awards, ending a record-breaking season in which his 73 homeruns were the biggest award for all. The 37-year-old outfielder, who was at 328 RBIs for the San Francisco Giants at .328, received 30 of 32 placements and 438 points for the National League Award, which was presented on Monday, November 19, 2001 by the baseball writer Association of America. (AP Photo / Reed Saxon)
Barry Bonds, the San Francisco Giants player, waves for a home race in his first home at Florida Marlin pitcher Chris Hammond during the second innings at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA, April 12 1993. The game is the house opener of the Giants and the first regular season game of newly acquired bonds at Candlestick Park. (19659040) Barry Bonds of San Francisco Giants beats the New York Mats on May 3, 1994 at Shea Stadium. (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)
San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds jumps to catch a fly ball from the bat of Atlanta Braves & # 39; Savoy Lopez during the fourth inning action in Atlanta, Monday, April 1 1996. The Braves beat the Giants 10-8. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)
San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds is shown on July 11, 1995 at the 66th All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo)
San Francisco Giants left Fielder Barry Bonds paused after he hit the wall when he failed to score a goal in the eighth inning of the first game of the National League Division playoff series against Florida Marlins right fielder Gary Sheffield Retract double pack. Tuesday, September 30, 1997, at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami. The Marlins won 3-1. (AP Photo / Jeff Boan)
San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds celebrates on the Giants Dugout after defeating the San Diego Padres to win the National League West title in San Francisco on Saturday, September 27, 1997. The Giants won the match, 6-1, and won their first playoff spot since 1989. [AP Photo / Eric Risberg]
San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds throws his hands after his second home game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the seventh inning of 3Com Park in San Francisco this August 30, 1998 file photo (AP Photo / Susan Ragan)
This is a June 22, 2001, file photo showing Barry Bond's San Francisco Giants, left, first base in front of St. Louis Cardinals first base Mark McGwire in the first inning of a baseball game in St. Louis. McGwire has finally gotten clean and admitted that he used steroids when he broke the home run record in 1998. (19659047) San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds, # 25, throws his bat after he has gotten his 171st Go in the 6th inning, break Babe Ruth's 1923 Major League Record for walks in a single season, against the Houston Astros at Enron Field on Wednesday, October 3, 2001. (19659048) Barry Bonds of The San Francisco Giants are greeted by his son Nikolai (25) and the rest of his crew on October 4, 2001, after beating homerun number 70 against the Houston Astros enforced at Enron Field in Houston, Texas. Bonds tied Mark McGwire's season record of 70 home runs in a single season. (Jeff Haynes / Agence France-Presse)
Barry Bonds of San Francisco Giants hits the ball for his 71st home race of the season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, October 5, 2001 at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco Francisco , Bonds has set the record for most home runs in a season beating Mark McGwire's home run record of 70 in 1998. (AP Photo / Ben Margot)
Barry Bond's mother Pat holds a copy of the Mercury News Ballpark Extra minutes after Bonds broke the seasonally home-high record Friday, October 5, 2001.
San Francisco Giants & # 39; Barry Bonds beats his 72nd home run of the season on October 5, 2001 at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, surpassing his first inning record when he broke Mark McGwire's record of 70 with his 71st home run. The Giants' slugger hit both home runs by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park, his 72nd in the 3rd inning. REUTERS / Lou Dematteis
Barry Bonds jokes with his team-mates on the bench after setting the HR record of 72 years. Pitcher Kirk Rüter stands behind him. The Giants lose the game to the Dodgers, 6-2. (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)
Left fielder Barry Bonds of San Francisco Giants laughs with Milwaukee Brewers first baseball player John Vander Wal between the innings of a spring training game on Saturday, March 8, 2003 in Scottsdale, Arizona. AP Photo / Morry Gash)
Barry Bonds holds the MVP Award 2003 he received before launching the San Francisco Giants game against the Milwaukee Brewers on opening day in San Francisco on Monday, April 12, 2004 Photo / Eric Risberg)
San Francisco Giants – Barry Bonds beckons to the crowd after Silver Slugger Award on opening day at Pac Bell Park, San Francisco, Monday, April 7, 2003. (AP Photo / Eric Risberg)  San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds captures a liner hit by Quinton McCracken of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third inning on Friday, July 9, 2004 in San Francisco. (AP Photo / Dino Vournas)
Home-run record holder Hank Aaron welcomes San Francisco Giants bat Barry Bonds before launching the All-Star Home Run derby in Houston, this July 12, 2004. (19659058 ) Fans cheer Barry Bonds after scoring a homerun on the 5th season opener at SBC Park in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Giants beat Milwaukee Brewers 7-5. (Photo: Joanne Hoyoung Lee / Mercury News)
San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds holds up his glove after hitting a Los Angeles flyball by Ramon Martinez of Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles on Sunday July 9, 2006. (AP Photo / Francis Specker)
Barry Bonds of San Francisco Giants (25) leads the bases after hitting his 750th career home run by Arizona Diamondbacks Livan Hernandez in the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday , June 29, 2007, in San Francisco. The hit brings Bonds within six years to break Hank Aaron's house bank record. (AP Photo / Ben Margot)
Barry Bonds meets on the 27th of July 2007 in the first inning against the Florida Marlins at AT & T Park in San Francisco at number 754. Marlin's pitcher was Rick Vanden Hurk. Bonds is a home away from tying Hank Aaron's all-time home-run record. (Mercury News / Gary Reyes)
San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds follows on his momentum for his record 756th homer in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at AT & T Park in San Francisco California, Tuesday, 7 August, 2007. (Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee / MCT)
Fans celebrate Barry Bond's No. 756 home run against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning at AT & T Park, San Francisco on August 7, 2007. Barry Bonds Breaking all home-run record by Hank Aaron in 1974. (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)
Barry Bonds recognizes the cheers of the 43,154 spectators who witnessed his 756th career home run, Hank Aaron's career home running record break. Washington Nationals at the San Francisco Giants, August 7, 2007, AT & T Park, San Francisco. (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)
San Francisco Giants & Barry Bonds waves goodbye as he leaves baseball at the end of the sixth innings against San Diego Padres, Wednesday, September 26, 2007 in San Francisco. It was the last time that Bond played San Francisco Giant in San Francisco. (AP Photo / George Nikitin)
Barry Bonds leaves federal court in San Francisco, California, on Friday, December 16, 2011, after being convicted of his sentencing for obstructing justice in connection with the Balco Steroids scandal , He was sentenced to two years probation, 30 days house arrest and 250 hours of community service. (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)
Barry Bonds reacts to a fan in front of the federal building in San Francisco after a federal jury found him guilty on 13 April 2011 for obstructing justice. In three perjury allegations, a misconduct was detected. The jury was on the fourth day of deliberations on the case. Bonds was found guilty of obstructing the judiciary for allegedly insulting a federal jury for knowing the use of steroids in 2003. (19659068) Miami Marlin's batting coach Barry Bonds greets Lou Seal at the AT & T Park in San Francisco Francisco, California, on Friday, April 22, 2016. (Jim Gensheimer / Bay Area News Group)
Former San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds Willie Mays enters the field before the start of the house opening at AT & T Park in San Francisco, California, April 3, 2018. (Charles Mondon / Bay Area News Agency)
Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants speaks after the 121-116 Warriors' victory with Stephen Curry (30) of Golden State Warriors over the New Orleans pelicans for Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer / Bay Area News Group)