Barry Bonds Should Have His Number Retired


Barry Bonds is one of the most divisive figures in sports history — yet for all he accomplished, he still deserves to be honored by the San Francisco Giants.

More from San Francisco Giants

Barry Bonds is the divider separating an otherwise tight-knit fan base. For fans, there seems to be no middle ground concerning Bonds — he’s either the home run king or an ugly stain in history.

For many, Bonds’ name should be erased from the record books, undeserving of being mentioned in the same sentence as Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays. For others, he is one of, if not, the greatest baseball players to ever step on a baseball field.  One of the most controversial figures in all of sports, Bonds’ accomplishments are scrutinized, but he has his place in Giants history.

The Giants have honored 12 players and retired 10 numbers: Bill Terry, 3; Mel Ott, 4; Carl Hubbell, 11; Monte Irvin, 20; Willie Mays, 24; Juan Marichal, 27; Orlando Cepeda, 30; Gaylord Perry, 36; Jackie Robinson, 42; Willie McCovey, 44. The other two men are Christy Mathewson and John McGraw who are honored with the “NY” logo from the Giants’ days on the East Coast.

It’s time for the San Francisco Giants to add number 25 to that list.

To be clear, this isn’t about making a case for Bonds’ place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately — yes, unfortunately — the lefty slugger may never grace the halls of Cooperstown. Bonds is the face of an era of baseball that voters don’t want tainting the Hall of Fame.

But that’s a different debate for another time.

More from Golden Gate Sports

This is about the San Francisco Giants celebrating one of the franchise’s biggest stars. While Hall of Fame voters made their stance on Bonds abundantly clear, the Giants have done the same. Now they must cement that stance

For years, Bonds was the leader of a championship contender. During his pursuit of the home run record, the Giants proudly supported him — even when his success was being questioned. From commercials to wall graphics in left field to rubber chickens down the right field line, both the organization and the fans showed their admiration and backing for Bonds. He put fans in the seats of the pitcher’s stadium that he made look small.

Since his retirement, the Giants have made the conscious decision to take care of Bonds. The Giants regularly welcome him as a guest, he oftentimes sits with CEO Larry Baer. He has been invited to throw out the first pitch during a postseason game and was even included in the World Series parade. Bonds, who fell short of winning a ring in 2002, played a role in the Giants’ most recent title as he joined the Giants in Spring Training for about a week as an instructor.

Though Bonds does divide the Giants’ ardent fan base, those that support him are making themselves known. Last All-Star break, Bonds was voted to be a part of the Giants’ “Franchise Four” alongside Buster Posey, Mays, and McCovey.

Major League Baseball encouraged fans to vote for their favorite team’s four greatest and most impactful players. Despite having several other great options with considerably less controversial careers, fans opted to vote for Bonds.

Since Bonds’ retirement, no Giant has worn the number 25 and that’s not a coincidence. The organization and fans have decided that what Bonds meant to the team outweighs the allegations, legal cases, and overall controversy that surround the home run king. In spite of what his detractors say, the Giants have shown a willingness to honor Bonds’ role in franchise history.

Barry Bonds is one of the most influential San Francisco Giants of all-time and that deserves to be rewarded. He captivated and inspired a generation of fans to fall in love with the Giants, the art of hitting, and baseball in general. From both a baseball and business perspective, Bonds’ contributions are significant.

Bonds, looking to get back into the game, is now the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. While he most likely would have taken the same job in San Francisco, if offered, it’s a testament to Bonds’ value. Teams want his knowledge. And even though he’ll be suiting up for a team on the other side of the country, he will pay AT&T Park a visit at the end of April.

Next: Farewell Nori Aoki

And the timing has never been better for the Giants to honor him.

If the Giants aren’t going to disassociate themselves with Bonds and they aren’t going to reassign his number 25 jersey, then they need to officially retire it and celebrate the career of an all-time great.