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San Francisco Giants Fans Cheer Barry Bonds

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Barry Bonds is now Major League Baseball's all-time home run king. Bonds hit his 756th career home run last night in San Francisco.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

ESPN play-by-play announcer John Miller called the game between the Giants and the Washington Nationals, and he joins us now. Good morning, John.

Mr. JOHN MILLER (Announcer, ESPN): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So, it's history, although certainly not unexpected.

Mr. MILLER: We knew that barring something truly remarkable, that he would get the record at some point. There were plenty of games left for him to do so.

What made the night truly remarkable for everybody there was the surprise appearance of the home run king for the last 33 years, Henry Aaron via videotape, who really stole the show as he congratulated Barry Bonds, I think much to the shock and surprise of Barry himself, as well as everybody there.

MONTAGNE: Describe the scene in the stadium when it was clear that Barry Bonds had just hit the ball that broke Hank Aaron's record.

Mr. MILLER: There was high expectation. He had swung the bat well. He hit a double into the same part of the ballpark. It was sort of a pre-cursor of what was to happen a little bit later. When you know that ballpark, it is not a very good place to hit. It's a pitchers ballpark, especially out there in deep right center field. It's 421 feet to that part of the ballpark. Other than Bonds, that's a home run hitter's graveyard. That's where home runs go to die. And Bonds hit it to that part of the ballpark, just to the left of the 421-foot marker.

Thousands of camera flashes lit up the ballpark. There was an armada of nautical crafts, kayaks, rowboats, motorboats out in McCovey Cove in San Francisco Bay behind the right field wall, hoping to catch the ball out there. Fireworks shot off over San Francisco Bay, out beyond the right center field wall, and the place just basically went nuts for a while. And then Barry was joined on the field by his family. The celebration really consisted of Barry waving to the fans, throwing kisses to the fans, hugging his family, his children, his wife Liz. And then Willy Mays, one of the greatest players who ever lived, came out on the field, and he's Barry's godfather. And Willy made sure that nobody spoke until we got to hear from Henry Aaron, and then that was what really brought the house down.

MONTAGNE: Commissioner Bud Selig was not at this game, but he did call and congratulate Barry Bonds afterwards. Even he, though, mentioned - or at least obliquely mentioned - the suspicion about Bonds using steroids - something like, all the issues which have swirled around his record will continue to work themselves towards resolution. It's a day for congratulations. Do you think Barry Bonds will ever succeed in getting rid of the asterisk that is sort of by his name, whether it is officially or not?

Mr. MILLER: I think Barry has been convicted of these allegations in the court public opinion. I think that it's a widely held belief that he did use performance-enhancing substances. Whether or not, overtime, those allegations will end up being proven 100 percent true or, overtime, people will soften their stands, I don't know. I will say that the outpouring of joy we saw in San Francisco I think underscores the notion of what this really is. This is a game that only exists in our society for fun. It's a pastime. It's something to enjoy away from the stresses of real life.

MONTAGNE: John, thanks very much.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: John Miller is the voice of the San Francisco Giants and a play-by-play announcer for ESPN. He called last night's game between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals in which Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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