Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run Tuesday night, surpassing Hank Aaron and landing himself in the Major League baseball record books.
The San Francisco Giants' slugger made the record-breaking hit at AT&T Park in San Francisco, shattering Aaron's record that stood for more than 30 years.
After tying the record at Petco Park in San Diego over the weekend, Bonds said the hard part was over, but on his first night back in San Francisco Monday, Bonds went hitless in three at-bats with one walk against the Washington Nationals.
Then, in Tuesday's game, with a capacity crowd of more than 45,000 people standing every time he approached the batter's box, Bonds hit a double in the second inning and a single in the third.
Then, in the fifth inning he launched a three-ball two-strike pitch to the deepest part of park, some 435 feet from home plate - a solo home run.
As Bonds rounded the bases suppressing a smile, his teammates and family streamed out to greet him. Fireworks showered the field and an errant fan ran across left field, only to be mercilessly tackled by a group of security guards.
The game was stopped for 10 minutes for a tribute to Bonds, highlighted by a videotaped congratulatory message from the man whose homerun record had been surpassed.
Aaron was barely audible above the crowd's cheers and surprise. The former all-time home run leader had let it be known that he had little interest in being present when Bonds broke his 33-year-old record. Yet, graciously offering his best wishes, Aaron said he hoped Bonds "achievement would inspire others to chase their own dreams."
In a news conference after the game, a relaxed and smiling Bonds was obviously moved.
Aaron's congratulations "meant everything. It meant absolutely everything," Bonds said.
"We all admire Hank Aaron. We all have a lot of respect for him. Right now, everything is just hitting me so fast. I'm lost for words Again, but it was absolutely the best," he said.
Conspicuous in his absence was Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Instead, he sent Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson as his representative. Selig did phone in his congratulations to Bonds, a gesture the slugger said he accepted.
If the message of the commissioner's absence was to suggest that Bonds' record is tainted by allegations of steroid use, it was flatly rejected by the new record-holder.
"This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period," Bonds said.
As for the man who delivered the decisive pitch, Washington's Mike Bacsik said he was disappointed to give up the home run. Bacsick said he was trying to challenge Bonds by throwing down and away, but left the ball over the plate.
"I dreamed of this as a kid. Unfortunately, I dreamed that I would be the one hitting the home run," he said.
As for the ball itself, it wound up in the hands of 22-year-old Matt Murphy of Queens, N.Y. he was bloodied and his clothes torn as security guards hustled him and his prize ball out of the park. The ball is estimated to be worth at least $500,000.
The Giants lost the game to the Nationals, 8-6.