Buck Showalter explains infamously walking Barry Bonds with bases loaded

Jessica Kleinschmidt
·2 min read

Showalter explains infamously walking Bonds with bases loaded originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Barry Bonds was, and arguably still is, one of the most feared hitters in the game. So much so, he once was intentionally walked … with two outs and the bases loaded.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this legendary story.

It was May 28, 1998 and the Giants were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs were being managed by Buck Showalter, who made the decision to intentionally walk Bonds with Arizona leading 8-6 with two outs in the ninth inning.

“We were out of pitchers, couldn’t play extra innings -- Gregg Olson, who was throwing 89-90, little curve, changeup, good man, good closer, was at the end of his career, and Barry just wore him out,” Showalter said on the latest episode of Balk Talk. “He wore out a lot of people though, and I could see the whole situation developing and I was trying to give us the best chance to win.”

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The intentional walk forced in a run, of course, which brought Brent Mayne up to bat -- not Jeff Kent, who usually hit behind Bonds.

“In that case, and I was looking at it and I could see if you did the math, where [Bonds] would fall in the batting order,” Showalter said. “You have to understand, he didn’t start that game -- he came in as a pinch hitter earlier. Jeff Kent, who was having a typical MVP year was not hitting behind him. And I love Brent Mayne, good major league player, but he wasn’t Jeff Kent and he wasn’t Barry Bonds so you had to pick your poison.”

The poison was picked, and ultimately it worked out for the D-backs, who would win 8-7 after Mayne lined out to right field.  

At the time, however, it clearly was a very strange situation. You can hear it in the excitement from the crowd and the stunned reaction from the broadcasters. But the veteran manager ultimately got the victory, which is all that really mattered.

And from then on, Bonds would always stop and give Showalter a specific look when the two would cross each others paths.

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We’re not completely sure what the look meant, but you know Showalter at least forever got Bonds’ attention.