Meet Barry Bonds

Jeff Passan

Being Barry Bonds is rough. One time, he walked onto a plane and everyone started to boo.

"Because I'm Caucasian, 52 years old and live in Grayslake, Ill.," Barry Lee Bonds said. "My wife and I were on a plane coming back from Belize in the wintertime. We'd gotten held up in international security. They held the plane because of my name. They actually told everybody they were holding the flight for Barry Bonds and his wife."

Being Barry Bonds is embarrassing too. In that Roger Clinton-Billy Carter sort of way.

"I look at him like a sibling, someone in my own family," said Barry Alan Bonds, from Andalusia, Ala. "I can't help what he does. I would rather he keep a clean slate and be a good role model so that when people hear my name they won't fuss, cuss and carry on."

Then again, being Barry Bonds does have its perks.

"I just got back from a week in San Francisco, of all places" said Barry M. Bonds, from Whitewright, Texas. "I got a couple golf shirts at Poppy Ridge and pulled my credit card. 'Oh my god.' The guy called his manager over. And they gave me a free Titleist cap with SF on it."

Until 1986, being Barry Bonds meant little more than hearing your name near the top of roll call. Barry M. knew of his doppelgänger because his mom saw Barry Lamar Bonds, son of Bobby, godson of Willie Mays – royalty in the baseball world – playing in the College World Series. The rest were blissfully oblivious.

Because now, sometimes being Barry Bonds is a lot like, you know, being Barry Bonds.

As the San Francisco Giants slugger sits on the cusp of breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, the trickle-down has infiltrated the lives of every other Barry Bonds in the United States.

Doesn't matter if they are white or black. (Most are white.)

Makes no difference if they are young or old. (Most are in their 40s or 50s, which goes to show that few people willingly name their children after the ballplayer.)

All of them have heard the question. So, please, if you run into one of the dozen or so Barry Bondses who lives in the United States, do not ask if he has taken steroids.

Seriously, it's old. Guys named Elvis don't own blue suede shoes. Women named Dorothy aren't all from Kansas. Just because you're Barry Bonds doesn't mean you take steroids.

With one exception, of course.

"I don't care if you eat steroids for breakfast every day," Barry M. said. "I don't know if they can help him hit that many home runs."

Still, the Barry Bondses of the world are rather interwoven. Barry Alan was born 25 days after the ballplayer. Barry Lee's dad is named Bobby like Bonds'. Barry Alan and Barry M. both work at the electric company. And Barry M. plays golf with a guy named Ted Williams.

"Since the real Ted Williams is dead, I'm probably better than him," Barry M. said. "And with the other Barry Bonds so bulked up, I bet I could take him."

Alabama has the densest Barry Bonds population, with Barry Len, Barry Norris and Barry Lonnell joining Barry Alan. Another Barry A. lives in Roanoke, Va., and works two jobs, according to his wife, so he was too busy to talk.

Records show a Barry Wayne in Louisiana and possible Barry Bondses in Mineral Ridge, Ohio; Tulare, Calif.; Laurel, Md.; and Fruithurst, Ala. Another person in Littleton, Colo., pops up in a database under Barry Bonds' name. Then again, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Larry Walker show up registered to that address too, which either makes for one incredible rec-league team or one serious identity thief.

For the rest of their lives, the Barry Bondses understand, they will be seen as interesting. They'll be tied to baseball's greatest hero and villain, one of its all-time characters. They'll get free beers and unwarranted jeers. Their name is their gift and curse.

So they try to live their own lives, with their wives and children, their pastimes and pleasures, their friends and fun.

Everything to build their own legacies, ones, in their minds, far greater than 756 home runs.

"Only difference is," said Barry Craige Bonds, from Rockwell, N.C., "when he's retired and gone from baseball, I'll still be working for a living."

Barry Craige assembles sandblasting equipment. People always ask when he's going to break the home run record. He chuckles and bites his tongue before the sarcastic response leaks out.

It's all part of being Barry Bonds.

"And I wouldn't trade the name," Barry Craige said, "for the world."

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