The day Barry Bonds hit his 71st home run to break Mark McGwire’s record
Twenty-four hours after hitting No. 70, the slugger homered twice to take sole possession of the season mark
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park made slight work of the first and second batters in the San Francisco Giants’ lineup, needing only eight pitches to get them out.
That made way for Barry Bonds. After Park served a ball on his first pitch, Bonds stepped out of the batter’s box, re-entered, lifted his arms, dropped his bat and awaited the righty’s next pitch.
At 8:14 p.m. PST on Oct. 5, 2001, fireworks exploded in the background and the 41,730 fans at Pacific Bell Park rose to their feet in jubilation after Bonds crushed a 1-0 fastball and sent it into the stands for his 71st home run of the season. That gave the 37-year-old sole possession of the MLB record for most home runs in a season.
Just 24 hours earlier, Bonds tied the record set by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire in 1998. Now the perennial All-Star was walking across home plate into the arms of his son, Nikolai, who buried him in a hug, and a mass of Giants players swallowed Bonds to congratulate him on the achievement.
Home run No. 70 came off Houston Astros rookie left-hander Wilfredo Rodriguez the night before. After being walked eight times and hit by a pitch once in 14 plate appearances against the Astros, Bonds channeled his pent-up energy into a leadoff home run in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 10-2 victory.
“Every time I have a chance to enjoy something, something else comes up,” Bonds told the Los Angeles Times. “Today, we finally put to rest Franklin [his friend, Franklin Bradley], who died [last week], and I haven’t had much sleep at all. We got in late [after a series against the Houston Astros at Enron Field], and I was up this morning early.”
After ducking into the dugout to speak to his father, Bobby, Bonds re-emerged for his curtain call, which lasted approximately six minutes. During that celebratory stretch, Bonds went behind the backstop to hug his wife, Liz, and his mother, Pat, before returning his focus to the game.
At the time of Bonds’ solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, the Giants trailed the Dodgers 5-0. When the bottom of the third inning rolled around and Bonds stepped up as the leadoff hitter, the Giants were down 8-4.
Park was still holding down the mound when Bonds returned for his second at-bat of the evening. Park committed the same mistake as the first time: He pitched hittable balls to Bonds.
On a 1-1 pitch, Bonds took Park to task, delivering another deep ball into the stands for his 72nd home run of the season to cut the Giants’ deficit to 8-5. The ball came back into the field of play, and Dodgers center fielder Marquis Grissom threw it into the infield so the Giants could give it to Bonds.
Chants of “Bar-ry, Bar-ry” roared throughout the ballpark in the aftermath. With that home run, Bonds moved past Jimmie Foxx into fifth place on the career multihomer-game list with 56. It also gave Bonds 566 career homers.
“It’s just fate,” said Dodgers left fielder Gary Sheffield, one of Bonds’ closest friends. “Certain things … when it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen. There’s no way around it. You look at the way the season is going. He’s got  home runs now.
“I knew in some way, shape or form that he was either going to tie the record or break the record against us. I just knew that.”
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy told his pitchers to challenge Bonds. The integrity of the game was more important to Tracy than not having Bonds achieve history at his team’s expense.
“We’re going to play to win,” Tracy said. “We’ve been doing it that way since the second of April, and we’re not going to deviate from our course now.”
Well, in that regard, Tracy got exactly what he wanted as the Dodgers were able to survive the Giants’ furious comeback and beat San Francisco 11-10.