The Hall: What would Barry Bonds say?
If he ever makes it to Cooperstown, he'll certainly have plenty of people to thank.
July 26, 2020 Cooperstown, N.Y. National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Barry Bonds, with the aid of a cane, steps slowly to the lectern. He pulls his notes from his suit pocket, stares out at the Clark Sports Center crowd and begins his speech.
"One of my mistresses -- can't remember which one -- asked me a few days ago whether I was bitter about having to wait seven years to get into the Hall of Fame.
"What's-her-name was so cute. She said, 'Don't they know who you are?'
"It's true -- there was a time when I was extremely angry at the world, and especially at the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Some of those writers, I wanted to cut off their heads and leave them in a ditch.
"But that was Old Barry. New Barry is more forgiving. Maybe I'm just wiser. Or maybe it's the medication I'm taking for my liver and heart.
"I played my last big league ballgame in September 2007. Then there was the mandatory five-year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility. But I didn't get enough votes in 2013. Or 2014. Or 2015. Or 2016. Or 2017. Or 2018. Or 2019.
"No major league player has ever hit more career home runs than me. No player has ever hit more home runs in a single season than me. I was a 14-time All-Star. An eight-time Gold Glove winner. A seven-time league MVP.
"And they made me wait.
"But I'm not bitter. I made almost $190 million playing baseball. I could live off the interest -- and still afford to buy the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'd hire Jim Leyland as manager just so I could fire him. And do it in front of the TV cameras, just like that time he got in my face at spring training.
"But bitterness is counterproductive. I don't believe in negative energy.
"I see so many familiar faces here today. First, I want to thank commissioner Jay-Z for making the long trip from the league offices in Beverly Hills. And where would I be without the right-handed me -- Manny Ramirez? Manny, you stay strong, my friend. If I can get in here, anybody can.
"I had originally asked my longtime confidant and personal trainer Greg Anderson to accompany me to Cooperstown. But weather problems prevented his yacht, 'Contempt,' from leaving Tahiti. And, as you know, Greg doesn't speak.
"Many thanks to Victor Conte, who is here today as my guest. If there's a better vitamin supplement guy in the business, I'd like to know him. And sitting next to Victor are some of the jurors from my federal felony trial in 2011. And to their right are my tailors throughout the years.
"Hey, there's former San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean! Brian is too modest to admit it, but he was an integral part of my glory years. He let Greg and the rest of my 'flaxseed oil' team have their run of the clubhouse. I know some of the Giants' team trainers weren't happy about it, but let me ask you a question: How many freakin' home runs did they hit?
"I've been informed that a handful of Hall of Famers couldn't make it here today because of previous commitments. Ryne Sandberg said Sundays are when he organizes his tie racks. Henry Aaron said he had a previous speaking engagement at the Kiwanis Club in Modesto, Calif. And Selig sent word that he would be busy clipping his toenails.
"I understand. They're busy men. But I'm not going to let their absence ruin this beautiful day.
"Before I continue, I just want to make sure everybody can see the stage OK. There's no obstruction, right?
"That was a joke for the feds.
"To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, you have to receive a mininum of 75 percent of the available votes. In 2013, I received only 11 percent of those votes. Joe Randa got more votes than me that year. I hit more dingers in 2001 than Randa hit in his last five seasons.
"But a witch hunt is a witch hunt. It's obvious that everybody hated me. Was jealous of me. If not for my inner strength -- and Greg's entirely independent decision not to testify -- I might not be standing here today.
"So, thanks to me, Greg and the introduction of the 400,000-square-foot PED Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I am the newest member of this elite club. And it's about damn time.
"I turned 56 two days ago. My doctors say I'm in relatively good shape for a man suffering from the long-term effects of inadvertent use of 'the clear' and 'the cream.' I'm down to my playing weight at Arizona State. Has to be the Jenny Craig.
"In my just-published autobiography, 'Shrinkage,' I chronicle my journey from son of a celebrity to the very moment I learned that I had finally been elected to the Hall of Fame. I'm proud of my career, my numbers and my resilience.
"In years to come, I will also be proud to visit these hallowed halls. And when my children ask, 'Daddy, why does it take two bronze plaques for your head to fit?' I'll say, 'Because Daddy wanted to be the best who ever was -- no matter what.'"
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
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