07/10/2002 2:04 AM ET
Bonds excels on All-Star stage
Giants slugger hits two-run homer in third inning
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Barry Bonds hit just two home runs in Monday's Home Run Derby, but he almost had that many in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
Bonds' third-inning homer off Toronto's Roy Halladay accounted for two runs in the first All-Star Game to end in a tie since 1961, as both teams scored seven runs before 41,871 at Miller Park.
Barry Bonds kisses his son Nikolai after hitting a third inning home run in the All-Star Game. (Al Behrman/AP)
It came two innings after he was robbed of a solo shot by Minnesota's Torii Hunter, the most spectacular highlight on a night overshadowed by the controversy that surrounded the end of the game.
Not surprisingly, Bonds' homer was hit on a 3-0 offering, the type of pitch on which he would have normally been intentionally walked had this been the regular season.
In fact, Halladay gave him a free pass when the two first faced one another on June 12 in Toronto, but this time the right-hander grooved a fastball that Bonds drilled off an advertising board in right field, an estimated 385 feet from home plate and out of the reach of Hunter.
"They need to call Barry up to another league. He's got this one figured out," said Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who added before the game that Hunter was the player he most looked forward to seeing play in person. "It's what the fans wanted to see. Barry hit one deep and Torii did what he does. That's what makes him an All-Star."
For the second time in the last four years, he lost an opportunity to grab one of the final pieces of hardware that has eluded him, the All-Star Game MVP trophy. In 1998, Bonds hit a three-run homer off Bartolo Colon at Coors Field but his team was on the losing end of the ballgame and the award was given to Roberto Alomar. This time, there was no trophy given, the first time that has happened since 1962.
In his initial at-bat, Bonds' drive off American League starter Derek Lowe, appeared to have more than enough to leave the yard before it started hovering just beyond the wall in right center field.
"I've never pitched here before, so I had no idea ... if it was going to go out of the park and he makes a fantastic play," Lowe said. "I've seen it so many times on TV. It was amazing."
Though many players spoke to the media during the game after they had exited the lineup, Bonds was not one of those. When the game ended in a 7-7 tie, his locker was empty and he was long gone by the time the media was allowed in the clubhouse, leaving his teammates to discuss the play.
"Unbelievable," said Sammy Sosa of Hunter's catch. "For a moment, I thought he was Michael Jordan. You know, that kid impresses everybody. Like Superman, he came from nowhere. I've seen him make some catches, but not up close, so now I know he's the man."
"I think everyone was just speechless," said NL starting pitcher Curt Schilling of the grab. "It's always awesome in an All-Star Game to see an All-Star do what got him there. Those are the moments that people will never forget when they are here and watching the game. That's one of the things that makes the game as great as it is. Every night, you get to see something you have never seen before."
That included the pregame ceremonies, in which Bonds was honored for his record-breaking, 73-homer season last year, recently ranked among the 30 most memorable moments in Major League history. When Bonds was brought onto the field during the ceremony, he motioned over to his godfather, Willie Mays, who joined him after also being honored for the catch he made during the 1954 World Series.
While Hunter's catch will hardly go down in baseball lore like Mays' did, Bonds was clearly impressed with it. As the Twins center fielder returned to the dugout, the two met in the infield.
"He just grabbed me and said, 'Nice catch,'" said Hunter. "If I had known he was going to wrestle me like that I might have wrestled him back. I don't know though, he's one very strong man."
When Hunter came up to bat in the second inning, the replay was shown on the video board and Bonds stood in left field, watching in amazement. After Hunter grounded out, he and Bonds met again in the middle of the infield to exchange words of praise.
"I'll be able to tell my grandkids I robbed a Hall of Famer," said Hunter.
SANTIAGO'S RETURN: Benito Santiago's return to the All-Star Game was a success after the catcher singled in his first at-bat, a ninth-inning pinch-hit against Mariano Rivera. But Santiago was also at the plate with two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the 11th, knowing that if he made the last out, the game would be called.
"I didn't have the pressure, but I was trying to end the game," he said.
Santiago struck out looking on a sweeping curveball from Seattle's Freddy Garcia.
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.