SAN FRANCISCO – At the end of his two days, Barry Bonds walked a corridor outside the home clubhouse, a police officer at his left elbow.
It was the eighth inning, and he followed plenty of the All-Star starters into the thick, cool air. He was hitless, but not untouched, having accompanied Willie Mays through his tribute, giving his godfather a final boost into the '58 Caddy that ferried him around AT&T Park.
"I'll never forget it," he said.
An hour later, Ken Griffey Jr. matched the seams on a cream-colored San Francisco Giants jersey, No. 24, MAYS across the back. Mays himself had stripped it off before he'd gotten into that finned car and handed it to Griffey.
Folding the jersey signed by Mays, Griffey smiled broadly and nodded. He laid it gently into a black leather box, which he held under his arm.
"You see I'm carrying it personally," said Griffey, otherwise unencumbered. "I'll leave one of the kids – no – but I'd leave one of the bags here to take this."
They both took home a little something from perhaps their final All-Star experience together: Bonds two days of relief and a did-he-do-it fly ball to the left-field warning track, Griffey a jersey, a couple RBI, and a wild trip through a crooked right field.
Griffey, coming up on 600 home runs, and Bonds, coming up on Hank Aaron, had done this together before, but never with Bonds taking broad bows during player introductions, never with Griffey feeling quite so fortunate to be around.
"Awesome," Griffey said.
"Outstanding," Bonds said.
Almost four hours before the first pitch, three-and-a-half before he'd walk his godfather across center field, Bonds reclined in front of his usual locker.
Three lockers down, Griffey held the same general posture, twirling a bat by its knob before he ran off for a moment.
Bonds wanted to sleep. With Jay-Z, he'd hosted a party in town the night before. He said he got to bed around 3.
Griffey was at the party, too, but left just after midnight.
"Hey, Junior, wake me up, man," Bonds shouted. "At 2:45."
He tied the ends of a black sanitary sock and put it over his eyes, like a man blindfolded.
"He's gone," Griffey's son, Trey, said.
"Trey," Bonds said, "wake me up. Good night, y'all."
And that was almost it for Bonds, until Griffey returned.
"He's a little older than most of us," Griffey announced. "It's nap time."
From 15 feet away, Bonds raised a finger.
"Hey," Griffey said, "did he flip me off?"
Bonds returned to his snooze.
"That's the first thing that happens when you get older," Griffey said. "You start flipping people off."
A stirring from the corner.
"What time is it, Trey?"
Bonds put his head back, leaned a bit further toward the wall, put his hands over his head.
So, Griffey wanted to know, who was the oldest All-Star ever. Satchel Paige was 47 in 1953.
"You got six more years to catch Satchmo," Griffey shouted, off by only a year. "Come on, dude, you can do it."
Only Bonds' mouth moved.
"This is it for me, dawg."
"He's saying that now," Griffey said in a stage whisper. "But, he'll be sitting there next year at Yankee Stadium."
He looked up at Pedro Gomez, the ESPN reporter and Bonds' reluctant shadow.
"And you'll be covering him," he said with a laugh. "Oh, that'll be outstanding."
Bonds' jaw slackened. His breathing became heavier.
"This is his backyard," Griffey said, tipping his head toward Bonds. "We're just renting it for two days, for the next seven hours."
Right about then, it was looking like his den.
Bonds momentarily out, Griffey's thoughts turned to the outfield. He'd play right field to Bonds' left, Carlos Beltran in between the 42-year-old and 37-year-old.
The right-center field gap? The wall 421 feet out?
"That's [Beltran's] ball," Griffey said. "He's young. Hey, I cover my circle better than anyone in the league. Would you all like to see it?"
He stood, held his arms straight out, and twirled.
That's his circle.
"It's in there," he said, "I get it."
Of course, as they'd all soon learn, not really. Ichiro Suzuki would rifle a ball to right-center field, Griffey would give a 37-year-old's chase, and the baseball would ricochet and die in the spot Griffey had just vacated.
"It would have come right back to me," he said.
At that moment, one thing crossed his mind.
"It's a four-letter word," Griffey said. "And 'Oh' is in front of it."
After all that running around out there, he would lope across the field, drop his glove and take a place next to Bonds at the dugout rail.
"We looked at each other," Griffey said. "And he said, 'That's never happened before.' "
Typical, of course. That was going around.