Barry Bonds May Be Headed for Retirement

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The San Francisco Giants have decided not to renew aging home-run king Barry Bonds' contract. With a reputation for being difficult and allegations of steroid use dogging him, Bonds may have a hard time finding a new team to sign him. Retirement looks likely.

JAMES HATTORI, host:

Major League Baseball's best-known and most controversial star may have taken his last at-bat. Outfielder Barry Bonds has been informed that the San Francisco Giants don't want him back next season. That makes bonds a free agent. The 43-year-old homerun champ says he still got more games left in him but it's not certain that other teams want to bring in the clubhouse - a high-priced, aging, moody superstar with steroid allegations.

Ben Adler of member station KXJZ reports.

BEN ADLER: For one last time, this was the house that Bonds built.

(Soundbite of baseball game)

Unidentified Man: And then at number 25, Barry Bonds.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

ADLER: Some 40,000 San Francisco Giants fans packed the AT&T Park Wednesday night to see their star play one last time.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

San Francisco Giants Fans: Barry. Barry. Barry.

ADLER: Night sports writers called it a marriage of convenience. But both the Giants and Barry Bonds have done handsomely over the last 15 years. The Giants got a new ballpark, a world series team and hundreds of sellouts. As for Bonds, well, he became quite simply one of the best baseball players the game has ever seen, and was paid some $170 million for his efforts. Still, as Bonds' skills deteriorated day-by-day and year-by-year, the marriage has to come to an end.

Mr. FRANK NEGRI(ph) (Giants Fan): Barry has been a good man for a long time. We're going to miss him.

ADLER: Giants fan Frank Negri sums up how most people felt at their last home game of the season against San Diego.

Mr. NEGRI: But you know what? We're building a new franchise and there's not a part of the store (unintelligible).

ADLER: San Francisco has always loved Bonds despite all those steroid allegations and rumors that he's not the best teammate. But outside the Bay Area, fans largely disliked him, and veteran Sacramento Bee baseball reporter Nick Peters says it won't be easy for Bonds to find a home next year.

Mr. NICK PETERS (Baseball Reporter, The Sacramento Bee): Teams will consider what whether we can use him as a designated hitter in the American League. And maybe he'll hit 30, 40 homers for us. But is it worth the risk of maybe altering clubhouse chemistry? He's not going to have those many options as he might think he has.

ADLER: The Giants trail by seven runs when Barry Bonds walked the home plate in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday night for his final at-bat as a member of the San Francisco Giants. With the game out of reach, the Padres' pitcher Jake Peavy grooved a fastball down the home plate…

(Soundbite of audience cheering)

ADLER: …and Bonds smacked it deep to right center field.

(Soundbite of audience cheering)

ADLER: But only to the warning track. Then he walked off the field one final time to a standing ovation.

(Soundbite of audience cheering)

ADLER: Beyond the right field fence, in the body of water Bonds made famous with his smash-hit homeruns, a group of kayakers' waited, hoping for one last ball. Dave Etlin(ph) says he'll keep coming to games in 2008 but not nearly as much.

Mr. DAVE ETLIN (Baseball Fan): I'll show you what I'm going to do next year. I got to sign here (unintelligible), kayak for sale.

ADLER: For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler.

HATTORI: This is NPR News.

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