Bonds attends special pregame ceremony at AT&T Park
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds told Giants fans Saturday night during a pregame ceremony honoring the team's former outfielders that he's not retired.
Bonds, a free agent, was a surprise participant in festivities that were part of the Giants' yearlong celebration of their 50th anniversary in the city.
Bonds, who was indicted last November on charges he lied when he told a grand jury in 2003 he didn't knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs and is set to go to trial in March, did not appear at a pregame social gathering, instead choosing to sign autographs outside the park.
His name was left off the official list of confirmed outfielders, although it was rumored Friday night that he would appear.
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After the first 24 former outfielders were introduced, Willie Mays walked through the center field gates unannounced. The crowd rose as he walked slowly toward the infield.
A few moments later, Bonds jogged through the left field gates and joined his godfather on the slow walk. He was greeted by a thunderous ovation.
Bonds joked with several of his former teammates and two of his former managers, Felipe Alou and Bruce Bochy.
"There are a lot of guys here today and I want to thank them for coming," Mays told the fans. "They are such a good group of guys."
As Mays left the podium, fans began to chant "Barry! Barry! Barry!" until Bonds acquiesced and grabbed the microphone.
"I want to thank the Giants for inviting all these great guys," Bonds said. "It's weird for me not to be in uniform with the Dodgers right there. You heard me Torre, I beat you before and I can beat you again. I haven't retired. Thank you."
Los Angeles manager Joe Torre tipped his hat at the comment.
"Barry is Barry," Torre said. "It was nice to see him out there. I have always respected what he's done. Even before there were any questions he won four MVPs."
Bonds pointed toward the Dodgers' dugout, where former teammate Jeff Kent was among those who were at the top of the steps watching the ceremony.
Bonds joined Giants television commentators Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper in the booth for the first two innings, referring to Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand as "Scott Rowand."
Bonds told the broadcasters he did not confirm his attendance at the reunion because he was on vacation and could not guarantee his flights.
After leaving the booth, Bonds was escorted past a group of TV, radio and newspaper reporters and entered a secured elevator without comment. He was later seen in the first row of the stands.
"He's always got the flare for the dramatic," said Giants pitcher Tyler Walker, a San Francisco native. "He's always had that his whole career and there was definitely an electricity in the building that hasn't been there for a while now. I'm glad he came back. I didn't get a chance to talk to him but it was good to see him come back. That shows the kind of love that he has for this organization and what kind of love this organization has for him."
Bonds hit .276 last year with 28 home runs, 66 RBIs and a major league-high 132 walks. He was the prime focus of the All-Star game last July when it was held at the Giants' waterfront ballpark, and he broke Hank Aaron's home run record of 755 the next month.
He also led the majors last season with a .480 on-base percentage and finished with 762 career home runs.
"I know the players and coaches enjoy seeing those guys again," Bochy said. "These players watched them and respected them. It gives the guys a chance to go through memories about great times in San Francisco."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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