Phillies fans vent displeasure at Bonds
PHILADELPHIA -- Barry Bonds got another rude welcome in a city known for its boorish behavior.
In his first game on the East Coast this season, the San Francisco Giants' slugger was greeted with the familiar boos that have followed him wherever he's played -- except at home.
"You stink, loser," a fan yelled as Bonds walked to the plate in the first inning of Friday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The boos grew louder when Bonds stepped into the batter's box and they quickly turned to cheers when he flied out to center field on the first pitch. Bonds heard it again in the third inning, when he was intentionally walked with a runner on second and one out. He grounded into a double play in the fifth and struck out in the eighth.
With Bonds in left field, fans in the bleachers behind him chanted "Just retire" and "Just inject me." A long banner in left field read: "Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer." Many carried signs that had simple asterisks on them.
One guy wore a fat suit that was supposed to represent Bonds with the Giants, while his skinny friend was the pre-pumped Bonds with the Pirates.
Alex Bues, a college student in Philadelphia originally from Connecticut, wasn't allowed to bring in a sign that read: "Got Roids?" However, someone else had a sign that said: "Got Juice?"
Bues wore a white T-shirt in which he wrote in orange and black marker, "Giant Cheater" on the front and "Disgrace" on the back above the No. 25.
Bonds entered with 712 home runs, trailing only Babe Ruth's 714 and Hank Aaron's 755.
Bonds has been a target for criticism throughout his career, especially now that he's facing lingering questions about steroids. A federal grand jury in San Francisco is investigating whether Bonds lied under oath when he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
Fans have vilified Bonds everywhere he's gone this season. But this is his first trip to a northeast city, where fans are generally more passionate and emotional. In Philly, they're always on the edge, mostly because the city hasn't celebrated a championship since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983.
These fans will always be remembered for booing Santa Claus during halftime of an Eagles game during a 2-12 season in 1968.
They once cheered the temporary paralysis of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, tossed batteries at St. Louis Cardinals outfielder J.D. Drew and always give their own players a hard time when they fail to deliver in clutch situations or appear to not give an all-out effort.
Bonds first emerged from the dugout at 5:39 p.m., walked to a spot behind the batting cage and stood there for a few minutes chatting with a Phillies coach. He waved to fans who hollered his name as he walked out to left field, where most of the anti-Bonds fans were located.
An obese man wearing a sleeveless cut-off T-shirt yelled: "Barry, your head is shrinking." A few minutes later, the same guy admitted he wished he looked more like Bonds instead of a reject from a beer-league softball team.
"You see those arms? They're bigger than my legs," the hefty fan marveled.
While the haters took their shots at Bonds, other fans gathered in the right-field bleachers, hoping for a souvenir. Bonds launched several drives into the stands during batting practice and one teenager drew loud cheers for using his Phillies cap to catch one of the homers.
Another teenager wearing a Yankees jersey and cap caught two of Bonds' batting-practice shots. He planned to save those balls for quite a while.
Some fans didn't understand the hype surrounding Bonds' pursuit of Ruth.
"Why is there such a big deal about this? He's not breaking a record. He's going to be in second place, not first place," a fan wearing a Bonds jersey said.
Sports radio host Howard Eskin of WIP-AM in Philadelphia spent the past week telling fans they should walk out of their seats, turn their backs to Bonds and go up to the concession stands when he bats. It didn't seem many listened.
"I don't understand the outrage," a caller to the station said earlier in the day. "Why should I boo Bonds? I didn't boo Mark McGwire. I didn't boo Sammy Sosa. I didn't boo Brady Anderson. I think they used steroids."
Bonds got loud boos when the lineups were introduced before the game, though there was a smattering of cheers. Most saved their best for the first inning.
In San Francisco's season opener at San Diego, a fan tossed a syringe near Bonds as he came off the field in between innings. They stuck to hurling insults in Philly -- at least early in the game.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press