07/09/2004 9:24 PM ET
Bonds not paid for Derby
Giants slugger last won the Home Run Derby in 1996
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds thought long and hard before deciding to participate in this year's Century 21 Home Run Derby, but his thinking had more to do with rest than compensation.
|Barry Bonds has not appeared in the Home Run Derby since 2002 at Miller Park. (Dino Vournas/AP)
"Contrary to a published report in San Francisco, outfielder Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants was not compensated to participate in the 2004 Century 21 Home Run Derby and was treated in the same manner as every other participant," Howard Smith, Senior Vice President, Licensing for Major League Baseball Properties, said in a statement on Friday.
"Having worked with, and known, Barry for many years and understanding his reluctance to participate, we are extremely grateful Barry recognizes the historic significance of this year's event, and what his participation means to baseball fans. It is extremely disappointing to Major League Baseball and the San Francisco Giants that his intentions have been grossly misrepresented."
Bonds lashed out at the report as well.
"What (the reporter) did was wrong. There was no statement like that. It was flat-out wrong and flat-out a lie. Period. It was just wrong."
Bonds had been extended an invitation earlier in the week but didn't announce his decision until Thursday afternoon, when he informed several reporters he would be taking part in the event.
"They are not compensating [me] for the Home Run Derby," Bonds said. "That did not enter into the conversation. I was talking to Howard Smith of Major League Baseball just to make sure that all the 500 guys were going to be in the home run hitting contest. "I just wanted to confirm that."
Bonds had been considering the invitation for days. On the one hand, there was the chance to participate in an historic event, with four members of the 500-homer club involved: Bonds, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr., and Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro. Philadelphia's Jim Thome, who leads the Major Leagues with 28 homers, will be the final NL participant, while Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, Boston's David Ortiz and Texas' Hank Blalock round out the American League participants.
But Bonds was also considering the day of rest that he would lose by agreeing to take part.
"I'm close to 40 [years old]," Bonds said. "I'm older than those guys, and we're in a close division race. What's more important, our division race or the home run hitting contest?"
In the end Bonds, who last participated in the event in 2002, decided he would accept. He is also looking forward to playing in Tuesday night's All-Star Game alongside Sosa and Griffey.
"That's going to be awesome," Bonds said. "That's going to be fun. What are the chances of three 500-homer guys together in the same outfield? That's awesome. I can't wait to bring my camera and have pictures taken. I can't wait.
"I think it could be an historic All-Star game, because it could be the first and last time we see three 500-homer guys in the same outfield. That's part of history. It could be something that never happens again. But then again, it could happen next year."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. Tony Kuttner, a contributor for MLB.com, contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.