Barry Bonds Hits 754

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Hammerin' Hank, here comes Barry Bonds.

Bonds hit his 754th career home run Friday night, moving within one of tying Hank Aaron's record.

Bonds sent a 2-1 pitch from rookie Rick Vanden Hurk over the wall in left-center in the first inning for a solo shot against the Florida Marlins, his 20th homer of the season.

Bud Selig wasn't there to see it, sending MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy in his place. The commissioner was back in Milwaukee, preparing to go to Sunday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Bonds drew ball one and ball two -- with boos raining down on Vanden Hurk -- before a called first strike. Then, the 96 mph fastball was gone

Bonds stood and watched his ball sail, then began another trot and clenched his fist -- hitting his latest homer in the Giants' waterfront ballpark where he's hoping to make history.

Fans, already on their feet for Bonds' first at-bat, screamed in delight as the ball was clearly a home run -- Bonds' first at home since he connected for No. 750 on June 29 against Arizona's Livan Hernandez. They chanted "Barry! Barry!" as he rounded the bases.

The fan who retrieved No. 754 was 38-year-old Eric Stormer, a general contractor and season ticketholder from nearby Martinez.

The 43-year-old Bonds, whose drive was estimated at 420 feet, connected off his 444th pitcher -- the first hailing from the Netherlands. He has homered off pitchers from 17 countries, including the United States.

In his first chance to tie Aaron, Bonds walked in the third inning -- his major league-leading 101st free pass of the year.

It's at home where Bonds has hit so many other milestone shots -- Nos. 500, 600 and 700 along with 660 and 661 to tie and pass his godfather, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, and also 715 last May 28 to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. He hit No. 714 across San Francisco Bay in Oakland.

In 2001, Bonds hit the final three of his 73 homers at home, breaking Mark McGwire's season record of 70.

The previous time Vanden Hurk pitched in San Francisco was during the Futures Game on July 8, picking up the win for the World squad.

Bonds had gone homerless in five games he played and 18 at-bats since he hitting two against the Chicago Cubs on July 19 at Wrigley Field. He had been 3-for-18 since his previous homer, but said Thursday he didn't think he was overswinging.

The slugger went out to his spot in left field in the top of the second with fans pounding the outfield fence in celebration. Bonds turned to acknowledge them with a wave of his cap.

A "Road to History" tribute played on the main center-field scoreboard with a greeting from Michael Jordan.

"Hey Barry, it's Michael Jordan," the message said. "I just want to congratulate you on your historic event. I'm very happy for you. Ever since the first day I saw you in the batting cage, you've been working toward this for a long period of time. So I want to wish you and Elizabeth and that beautiful girl of yours congratulations. I'm very happy for you."

Bonds reached 20 home runs for the 19th time in his 22-year career, one short of Aaron's record of 20 seasons with 20 homers.

Selig is scheduled to be in Los Angeles starting Tuesday, when the Giants open a series against the rival Dodgers.


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