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Big League Stew

Barry Bonds’ 756th home run turns 5 Tuesday

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

The year was 2007. "Transformers" was just starting its loud and clunky run to box office success, Andy Samberg was introducing a new form of Internet-friendly comedy named the "digital short" and America was learning how to dance all over again from a young man who called himself "Soulja Boy."

Over in San Francisco, a controversial old slugger was taking what many suspected was a chemically enhanced run at one of the most hallowed records in sport. And on the night of Aug. 7, he finally got there by launching a baseball into the cool bay air of San Francisco:

You might remember everything that happened after that ball landed and you might not. Barry Bonds circled the bases for the 756th time in his big-league career. Henry Aaron appeared on the video screen to congratulate him while a few others started the clock on their 15 minutes of fame.

• Mets fan Matt Murphy was swallowed in a bleacher dogpile fight for the ball but came out with a treasure that he'd sell to clothing magnate Marc Ecko for $752,467.20.

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(Baseball Hall of Fame)

• Ecko, in turn, would wring every dollar of publicity out of that ball by affixing it with an asterisk and donating it to the Hall of Fame (which accepted it and put it on display).

Washington Nationals reliever Mike Bacsik signed autographs (for a fee) with an "I gave up 756" inscription and seemed to relish his role in the play so much that he was later accused by a teammate of grooving the pitch for No. 756.

Five years later, it's still hard to reconcile the events of that night. The controversy surrounding the player and the play mean that it'll never occupy a special and hallowed spot in any baseball history that's not written in orange and black ink. At the same time, Bonds' achievement seems like it's deserving of more than a hazy memory and a short and snarky segment on a future episode of VH1's "I Love the '00s."  I don't suspect we'll ever be able to strike the right balance though, especially with the firestorm that's about to begin with Bonds becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot this winter.

Today's fifth anniversary will be a low-key one. Bonds gave an interview to MLB.com's Barry Bloom, who was more or less the official court stenographer during the run to Aaron's record, and that will have to serve as a marker for the passage of time. Maybe the Giants will be in town when the 10th anniversary comes around in 2017 and maybe his loyal fans in the Bay Area — which Bonds now insists on calling his "family" — will replicate the roar that greeted his blast five years ago Tuesday.

The reaction from the rest of the sport and the country, though, will probably also stay the same. Which is to say, indifferent at best and completely dismissive at worst.

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