Baseball: Bonds hits 714th home run to tie with Ruth

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The Independent Online

Barry Bonds joined Babe Ruth in second place on the Major League Baseball career home run list on Saturday, hitting his 714th homer during San Francisco's 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Bonds, ending a nine-game slump, hit into the first deck of the elevated stands in right-centre at McAfee Coliseum in the second inning. Though the Athletics do not provide estimated distances on home runs, this one appeared to travel about 400 feet (120 metres) - not one of Bonds' trademark behemoth drives.

His homer was not a universally popular achievement. Spectators stood in celebration of the moment if not the man, who has been dogged by allegations of steroid abuse.

Cheers rang out, but not for long. The supporters at the Coliseum seemed as puzzled as the rest of baseball on what to do about Bonds.

"I'm just glad it's over with," Bonds said. "I don't know how to express it at this moment. It's just overwhelming really. It's a lot of relief. It feels great. I can't say enough about it. I got a whole lot off my chest. Maybe I'll relax and play better now.

"When I hit it I knew it was gone. Now it was just, make it around the bases. I'm just glad it happened in the Bay Area."

While he was booed by many fans before the game, the 41-year-old Bonds received a standing ovation and the game was stopped for about 90 seconds after he rounded the bases.

His team-mates, along with teenage son Nikolai, a Giants bat boy, greeted Bonds at the plate as he finally tied Ruth on the all-time list.

San Francisco's win ended a four-game losing streak in the Bay Bridge Series and the sellout crowd of 35,077 was left to ponder a moment of history and wonder how much of it was real and how much was a product of modern chemistry. There is a federal grand jury investigating whether Bonds lied to another grand jury about using steroids, and the next time Bonds attracts such media attention he could be in front of a courthouse.

Next up is Hank Aaron's record of 755 home runs. It is conceivable Bonds could become the home run king some time next year.

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