You don t have to be a baseball fan to be a Barry Bonds fan. All you have to do is appreciate the man s greatness.
Bonds is the best baseball player of my six-year-old son s generation. I owe it to him to take him to watch Bonds play in person, the way my father took me to watch Willie Mays play the Phillies at old Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia way back in 1960something.
I can still remember squirming impatiently in the left-field stands, wearing my baseball glove and willing Mays to hit one my way. Mays didn t, but Jim Ray Hart did, a 400-plus-foot blast that landed about 10 rows behind me.
Bonds and his San Francisco Giants visit the Cincinnati Reds for three games beginning tonight at Great American Ballpark. It will be his only Ohio visit this season.
Three more opportunities to witness Bonds genius at work, if a sinus infection doesn t keep him out of the lineup. Plus an opportunity to teach my son that sports and real-life drama do mix.
My son s approaching the age when asking questions is becoming the focal part of our conversations.
More than anything, he wants to know who, what, when, where and why. And he wants to know now.
Where are we going?”
Cincinnati, to a baseball game.”
To watch Barry Bonds play.”
Who s Barry Bonds?”
The best player in baseball.”
He plays for Cincinnati?”
No, he plays for the San Francisco Giants.”
What number does he wear?”
We re going all the way to Cincinnati to watch him play?”
He must be pretty good.”
He s the best home-run hitter of his era. He s the best hitter, period. Teams walk him on purpose rather than pitch to him.”
Will Cincinnati walk him on purpose?”
If they walk him on purpose, and he doesn t get to hit, why are we going to see him?”
Is he nice?”
Does he sign autographs for kids?”
Not too often.”
He just doesn t.”
Will he sign my autograph?
Don t know.
Does he like kids?
I m sure he does.
Does he have kids?
Do people boo him?”
Some people think he s a bad guy because he s not real friendly to fans and some people believe he uses steroids.”
What are steroids?”
It s something that athletes use to make them stronger. But steroids aren t good for you. They can make you sick. And they re illegal.”
Why does Barry Bonds use steroids?”
I didn t say he uses them. I said, some people think that he does.”
Why do they think that?”
Because a man who Bonds considers to be his friend has been accused of giving steroids to Bonds and other baseball players.”
If one of my friends wanted me to do something bad, he couldn t be my friend anymore.”
You re pretty smart for a 6-year-old.”