On this day in 2004, Barry Bonds further cemented his legacy as perhaps the best hitter in MLB history, by hitting 30 home runs in 13 consecutive seasons. Bonds’ 2004 season was perhaps the greatest statistical year of his career—even better than his historic 2001 season where the San Francisco Giants slugger hit 73-home runs. In 2004 Bonds hit 45 homers, batted .362 and led the NL in slugging, OBP, walks and intentional walks. It was also that year that Bonds became the oldest player in league history to win the NL MVP award.
Bonds did all of this while under the microscope of the infamous BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) scandal. The previous year he was linked to the scandal, after Bonds’ long-time trainer Greg Anderson was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to several athletes, including MLB players.
Bonds admitted to a grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream that he received from Anderson. Bonds was allegedly told that the supplements were flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis. The media and many fans weren’t buying it and “the cream and the clear” would be attached to Bonds’ name for years to come.
Anderson and his cronies eventually struck deals with the feds in 2005 on the condition that they didn’t have to give up names.
2004 would be Barry’s final year playing MVP caliber baseball. It was also the Giants last year the Giants would have a winning season until 2009.
Despite his incredible numbers, Bonds legacy has been forever tarnished because of the belief that he used PED’s during an era of baseball where it has been proven that many pitchers and position players were dirty.
In his post-playing career, Bonds has kept a fairly low profile. From 2011 to 2015 he fought an obstruction of justice conviction that was eventually overturned. During that same year the Florida Marlins hired him as a hitting coach. A job that would only last one season. The Giants finally hired the greatest player in the franchise’s history, as special advisor to the CEO in 2017. Just last month Bonds was enshrined into the Giants Wall of Fame—nearly a decade after the organization decided not to resign him.
Bonds is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing figures in sports history, but none of that can take away from his legacy on the field. Even if writers never elect him to the Hall of Fame, Bonds’ accomplishments can’t be erased from America’s favorite pastime.