Wells gets Bonds' signature on rare ball
Padres pitcher now has top three homer hitters' autographs
SAN DIEGO -- Padres left-hander David Wells is a baseball collector of sorts and one of his prize possessions just grew a lot more valuable.Wells has an old, grainy, yellowing baseball that he purchased for $7,000 with a Babe Ruth signature scrawled across the sweet spot. Since the purchase, he had Hank Aaron sign the ball during a Padres trip to Atlanta, and on Sunday, he added the name of Barry Bonds in the left fielder's unmistakable script. That may give Wells the only ball that has the signatures of the top three all-time Major League home run hitters on it. "Barry was very nice about it," Wells said after the game, showing three reporters the ball sealed in a soft plastic case at his PETCO Park locker after his Padres defeated the Giants, 5-4, to cap a three-game weekend sweep. "We had a long conversation." Bonds, who hit his 755th homer Saturday night to tie Aaron and didn't play Sunday, confirmed that he had given Wells his signature on the ball. "Yes, I signed it," Bonds said. Ruth, with his 714 homers, led the all-time list until Aaron passed him on April 8, 1974, as a member of the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Aaron, whose final homer came on July 20, 1976, as a member of the Brewers at Milwaukee-County Stadium, held the record alone for nearly 33 years, four months, until Bonds tied him Saturday night. When Bonds hits his next homer, he'll become the first player to own both the career home run record and single-season home run mark since Ruth. Bonds set the single-season record with 73 homers in 2001. Ruth, as a member of the Yankees' "Murders' Row," originally set the single-season record with 60 in 1927. By that time, Ruth already had the career lead. Roger Maris surpassed Ruth's single-season mark when he hit 61 homers in 1961. Before Sunday's game, Wells ran into the three reporters in the hallway outside the Giants clubhouse and said he wanted Bonds to sign the ball. Asked after the deed was done how Bonds reacted when he saw the other two prominent signatures, Wells said: "He smiled." Bonds also gave a personally signed bat on Saturday night to Padres right-hander Clay Hensley, who surrendered the Aaron-tying homer to open the second inning. Hensley was optioned to the Minors before the game Sunday. He was the 445th pitcher to give up at least one homer to Bonds during the course of his 22-year career. "It was a nice gesture," Hensley said about receiving the bat. "I appreciate that."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.