Article: 19930701065

Title: Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds
HMH Publishing Co., Inc.
Playboy Interview
It is said that a great baseball player can do five things well. He can run, throw, field, hit for average and hit for power. Barry Bonds is five for five, which is why in the next six years he will earn $42 million more than the president of the United States. But to many fans, Bonds also exemplifies other qualities: greed, arrogance and the bombast that makes today's jocks seem less heroic than those of the past.

It is said that a great baseball player can do five things well. He can run, throw, field, hit for average and hit for power. Barry Bonds is five for five, which is why in the next six years he will earn $42 million more than the president of the United States. But to many fans, Bonds also exemplifies other qualities: greed, arrogance and the bombast that makes today's jocks seem less heroic than those of the past.

Sure, he may be a great ballplayer, as even his detractors admit. Yes, he is a hunk— "People" magazine called him one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. He's also a devoted family man who speeds home from the park to spend time with his wife, Sun, and two toddlers, Nikolai and Shikari. Still, Barry Bonds pisses people off.

Maybe it's the contract. After leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight divisional titles, he spurned the Pirates' offer of $5 million to sign with the San Francisco Giants last winter. San Francisco agreed to pay him $43.75 million over six years—$7.3 million per year. Even that wasn't quite enough. Bonds also demanded a private hotel suite on road trips, a perk the club dutifully added to the richest contract the game has ever seen.

Maybe it's the jewelry. A diamond cross hangs from his left ear and a mammoth diamond ring adorns his left hand. Under his Adam's apple hangs a pendant that reads Barry Bonds 30/50 in diamonds and gold, a none-too-subtle reminder of his 30-homer, 50-steal feat of 1990.

Maybe it's his celebrated attitude. Bonds is not shy. On the field he is among the most graceful of athletes, but he is also a show-off. He taps his glove to his chest or his hip before fancily shagging fly balls, employs a quick-wristed "snap catch" that adds further style to the putout and poses after hitting home runs: Standing frozen at the plate, he watches the ball soar into the cheap seats, relishing his moment of triumph. Off the field he speaks his mind, insisting that he is worth almost $44 million if anyone is, though he sometimes turns frosty and refuses to speak to reporters, fans or even teammates.

None of that wins many friends in baseball, a hidebound game that has long preferred the modesty of Nolan Ryan and Don Mattingly to the stylings of such young stars as Bonds and Deion Sanders. Of course, for Bonds, both attitude and ability are family traits. His father is Bobby Bonds, who played in the big leagues from 1968 to 1981. The elder Bonds batted .268 with 332 career home runs and 461 stolen bases. He almost won a most-valuable-player award in 1973, when he hit 39 homers, drove in 96 runs and stole 43 bases for the Giants. But Bobby Bonds—who as a minor leaguer had waited outside while teammates ate in whites-only restaurants—was thought to be moody if not militant. In those days before free agency, he was shuttled from team to team seven times in 14 years. During that time he provided his wife, Pat, and their children with a comfortable suburban life, complete with the advantages Barry needed to become an even better ballplayer than Bobby was.

After batting .467 for Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Barry Bonds hit .347 with 45 home runs in an all-American career at Arizona State University, tying an NCAA record with seven consecutive hits in the College World Series. Drafted by the Pirates in 1985, he reached the big leagues after only 115 minor-league games. In 1986 he led National League rookies in home runs, RBIs and stolen bases. Four years later he was an All-Star, the first player ever to bat .300 or better with 30 or more homers, 100 or more RBIs and 50 or more steals in a single season. He was the league's most valuable player that year, finished a close second in 1991 and won his second MVP award last season, when he batted .311, hit 34 home runs, drove in 103 and won a third straight Gold Glove award for his fielding.

At the age of 29, Bonds owns one more MVP trophy than Babe Ruth. If he can claim another he joins Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio and Mike Schmidt as one of eight men to win the award three times. No one has ever won four times. Bonds says he wants to be the first.

Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds have hit more home runs than any other father-son duo in the game's history. Only five players have ever had multiple 30-homer, 30-steal seasons, and two of those men are named Bonds. Now that Bobby is back from a five-year absence from the game, both of them are San Francisco Giants. Bobby is the Giants' new batting coach. Bobby's friend Willie Mays—the Hall of Famer who is Barry's godfather—is also with the Giants. Barry, of course, is the club's superstar.

Contributing Editor Kevin Cook spent parts of the past winter and spring with Bonds. Cook reports:

"I knew of Bonds' reputation for being aloof or even surly. I found him difficult to pin down—he often postponed our meetings for a day or two—but each time we met he was engaging, thoughtful and funny.

"We began at the Beverly Hills offices of his agent. I noticed his tendency to look blankly past people. It could have been aloofness or a defense against being rushed by half a dozen people calling his name. Once we sat down in a corner office, he was pleasant and animated, stopping only to call 'my man Arsenio,' who couldn't come to the phone. Bonds took a break to peruse a sheaf of papers that turned out to be the latest revision of his contract, which he signed with a multimillion-dollar scribble.

"We also chatted at Bear Creek, the Nicklaus-designed golf course close to his new 12,000-square-foot house near San Diego. An avid golfer with a ten handicap, he is a wizard at escaping sand traps and a gleeful competitor—laughing when his opponent's ball bounces off the green and into a trap. When he hits a drive just right—one of his infrequent 300-yarders—he finishes the swing exactly the way he does after hitting a home run, and says, 'Damn, look at that one.'

"At Scottsdale, Arizona, the Giants'spring-training home, I found Barry's father sitting in the locker room at Scottsdale Stadium smoking a cigarette. Bobby Bonds spoke softly, with evident pleasure, of Barry's youth. He remembered worrying because his first son seemed to be left-handed, an attribute that would limit the positions he could play on a baseball team. Wanting Barry to be right-handed, Bobby 'wouldn't let him lake his baby bottle with his left hand. I'd pull it away and get him to take it with his right. But then he'd just switch it over, so I lost that one.'

"On the practice field at Scottsdale, Barry shagged flies and took batting practice. Still rusty after four months without facing live pitching, he spent a few frustrating minutes tapping ground balls and hitting pop-ups. When he finally sent a ball over the fence and down the street beyond, his face lit up. 'They'll never find that one,' he said."

[Q] Playboy: How does it feel when you hit a home run?

[A] Bonds: Like one perfect boom. You're in a zone all by yourself. No matter where the ball is, no matter what the pitcher does, you know exactly what's going to happen. Everything is perfect in that one particular second. It's in slow motion. You don't hear anything, you don't even feel it hit your bat. That's the zone—it's strange, it's fun, but it's only temporary.

[Q] Playboy: After hitting one, you often stand frozen at the plate, admiring your work. Aren't you showboating?

[A] Bonds: The way I see it, out of a hundred and sixty-two games, six hundred at bats, you may hit twenty to thirty home runs. Enjoy 'em. The pitchers enjoy it when they strike you out. Relievers enjoy themselves when they get that last out and save the game. Let me enjoy my time. I mean no harm. I worked my butt off to get where I am. All the hard work I did, in this one split second, paid off.

[Q] Playboy: Are you a hot dog?

[A] Bonds: Sure. I can be very arrogant and cocky on the field, but that's what makes Barry tick. That's my comfort zone. I'm doing my job, giving the people what they paid for. Entertainment. Like when I tap my glove on my chest before I catch a fly ball. People like that. But there's a point to it, too. It lets my teammates and the fans know everything's under control. You can yell, "Mine, I got it," but sometimes the crowd is so loud, the other outfielder can't hear you. When I'm tapping to say it's mine, you can't miss my gesture. It's like I'm moonwalking across the field.

[Q] Playboy: Did anyone ever tell you to cut it out?

[A] Bonds: Guys will say, "I get tired of you catching the ball like that every time I hit it." I say, "If you have a problem, don't hit it to me."

[Q] Playboy: You're not shy out there.

[A] Bonds: It's like I become a Hollywood star on the field, like Michael Jackson. I can't dance like him or excite people like he does, but I can hit my glove on my chest and people like it. It's a move no one's seen before. When I jump over the wall for a ball, I feel like Michael Jordan flying in air. When I crash into the wall, I'm Rambo, this invincible man. You know the movie Predator? The dude who knows where you are and can see you, but you can't see him? When I hit my game-winning home run off Lee Smith, I was the Predator. I knew what was going to happen. It was incredible. I can see you, but you can't see me, and something good is going to happen.

[Q] Playboy: How many people do you have in your uniform?

[A] Bonds:[Laughs] You get a lot of characters out of me. I can be radical, subde or mean. When I run my mouth, I'm Richard Pryor. I can feel smart and want everybody to listen to me, like Bill Cosby. After I signed with the Giants and everyone asked how it felt to come home, to be with my idol Willie Mays—he's my godfather—and with my father, I got all sensitive. Choking up, crying at a press conference. And I thought, yes, now I'm Diana Ross.

[Q] Playboy: You said you could be mean.

[A] Bonds: Some days I'm like the deaf girl in the movie Children of a Lesser God, the one who had such an attitude all the time. I won't talk to anybody. My teammates, coaches, nobody. Stay out of my face, because I don't hear anybody and I'm not talking.

[Q] Playboy: Why?

[A] Bonds: That's how I feel that day. I'm not always the best person to be around. I can be a butt.

[Q] Playboy: Does that bug your teammates and coaches?

[A] Bonds:[With his fingers in his ears] Sorry, I can't hear you!

[Q] Playboy: Sounds like the time to bring up a touchy subject. How can a ballplayer be worth $44 million?

[A] Bonds: It's entertainment and entertainers get paid a lot. But I'm not going out buying everything I see. It's for my kids more than anything else. I wanted a house big enough so that my kids didn't have to share a room. When I was a kid I always had to give up my room when my grandparents came to visit. I didn't want my kids ever to have to give up their rooms, and now they sure don't.

[Q] Playboy: How did you hear about the biggest contract in baseball history?

[A] Bonds: The owner, Peter Magowan, called me. He said, "How would you like to play for San Francisco?" The first thing out of my mouth was, "Oh, I get to go home." So I said yes and that was it. Next thing I know my agent calls and it's "Barry Bonds, this is your contract!" My head blew up like a balloon. I freaking wanted to go to the Empire State Building and jump, since I could fly at that point. Then I got nervous. Scared. I didn't want it to happen. I thought, "Nah, maybe $4.7 million is fine for me." That's what I was making before. No one cares about that. Now that everyone's breaking $4 million, it's "just" $4.7 million. When I was in the minor leagues I had four roommates and slept in a lounge chair for two months because I couldn't afford a bed, and I was happy. I could take $4 million and be happy, but at the same time, I couldn't. You're not going to turn down what a man wants to pay you.

I think of it like this: The San Francisco Giants, my bosses, are paying me forty-whatever to do a job, and I want them to get their money's worth. I think, God, I have to thank them for what they've done for me and my family. I've got to be the best of the best. People say, "Don't add all that pressure on to you," but what can you do? You think about it. You don't want to make your boss look like an idiot. You don't want to make yourself look like an idiot. I know there'll be days when I get pissed off or when I go home and cry because I'm not living up to expectations, but I still have to think, This man is paying me to do a job. Give him his money's worth. Throw away the fans, throw away the media, throw away everything and go to work for the man who gave you the money.

[Q] Playboy: Forty-four million creates a lot of expectations.

[A] Bonds: I hope I don't let them all down. You can't focus on the money too much, though. You'll catch yourself trying to prove too much. I have to not be nervous about it.

[Q] Playboy: How does that much money affect the people around you?

[A] Bonds: It causes problems. I just wrecked one of my Mercedes-Benzes. We had a lot of rain and flooding around my house. The street gave way and washed the car down the street, with me and my wife in it. We had to climb out the window. It messed up the car. So pretty soon I'm calling up the place where they're fixing it and they say, "Barry, we're having a little problem with the insurance company. There might be a ten-thousand-dollar difference here. You just signed that big contract, so why don't you write us a check?" I got pissed. It hurt my feelings to be treated like that. I said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's none of your damn business what my salary is. Would you treat me that way if I were the average Joe Schmo?" I just thought it wasn't right. It's not fair—I worked for that money just like anybody else. It's important to me.

On the other hand, with people I like, with my family, it can be fun. I can show them my tax form. I say, "Look at this—that's what I paid in federal income tax." My aunt says, "I could live a lifetime on that." I can help my family. And there's my looks. Being in People magazine, one of the beautiful people, that was a trip. It's so funny. Somebody once said that when you don't have money you're ugly. When you have a little bit of money you're cute, and when you get rich you're fine as hell. I don't think I'm very good-looking, but some people now are telling me, "Oh, you are so fine." I'm like, "Give me a break. I was just cute when I didn't have any money."

[Q] Playboy: What do you think made you such a fine ballplayer?

[A] Bonds: Some of it is genetics. Black people in general have the genetics for sports. My dad was a hell of a player, too, so I was gifted with a lot of athletic ability. Everything was easy for me, all sports, when I was a kid. I'd work half as hard as other kids did and I was better. Why work when I had so much ability? I'd outhit and outthrow and outrun everybody. Some other kids were jealous. They'd say, "You get everything you want because Bobby Bonds is your dad. You get to start on the team because Bobby Bonds is your dad." It hurt, hearing that, but since I was hitting nearly .500, I guess they were wrong. I was the best one in high school. College, too. I took it for granted that, damn, baseball was easy. That's a great feeling, just being strong and natural, but it can destroy you. You think you're bigger than the game, so you never learn anything. In the minors, number-one draft pick, you shoot right past people who have a lot more heart than you do. Then you're in the majors. All of a sudden you get some of the limelight, there are women after you, you're staying out all night. You love it, but you forget your job. I was in the major leagues four years before I woke up.

[Q] Playboy: Still, you led National League rookies in homers, RBIs and steals in 1986. In the four years you claim you were dozing, you had 84 homers and more than 100 steals. You were one of the best outfielders.

[A] Bonds: I was doing fine. I was good. But not good for me. I was just average for me. Then I went to get a haircut. This was in the off-season, in 1989, at Fred Tate's barbershop in Pittsburgh. Ninety percent of the black athletes get their hair cut there. I'm getting my hair cut, they have the radio on, and a guy on the radio says what a great athlete Randall Cunningham is, but what a great quarterback Joe Montana is. I weighed the two and thought, I'm so bored with having great ability, having the potential of being a great player. I want to be a great player like Joe Montana. So that haircut was my inspiration. I realized that what I'd been doing—walking off the field thinking I could have done better, cutting myself short—was wrong. Wrong to me, my team and even the game. I just wanted to try harder, so I could leave the game with nothing left undone. That's when I thought, I'm going to work my tail end off before it becomes too late.

[Q] Playboy: Did you talk to your dad about any of this?

[A] Bonds: My dad and Willie. They both said the same thing. They said I wasn't the player I should be. "If you want the Hall of Fame, if you want to leave the game with nothing left undone, you have to dedicate yourself, not sit on your butt." They were right, but I had to see it for myself. So that winter, I stayed in Pittsburgh and trained hard—hitting, running, working with weights. Since then, every off-season I take three weeks off. The rest of the time is for work.

[Q] Playboy: Through 1989 your career batting average was .253. In the three years since then, you've batted .301 with an average of 31 homers, 111 RBIs and 45 steals. You've won three Gold Gloves. The one time you weren't voted the National League's MVP, you were the runner-up. Are you satisfied now?

[A] Bonds: No. I want two more MVPs. Nobody's ever done that. But I'm happy. Now when I walk off the field each year, knowing I did what I could, I feel refreshed.

[Q] Playboy: Does competition with your dad motivate you?

[A] Bonds: No, we're friends now. But it used to bother me early in my career when people kept calling me Bobby. I think that had a lot to do with my success, because I was determined to have my own name.

[Q] Playboy: What else have you learned in the big leagues?

[A] Bonds: Other things to practice. Playing racquetball because it's quick, to make me a little better and quicker defensively. Playing golf in the off-season. That helps mentally—it's all concentration—and it's good that it's a smaller ball. I'll take a bunch of golf balls, throw them up and hit them with a baseball bat. Hitting smaller objects is good practice. Tennis balls, too—I put numbers on them, have somebody pitch them to me and I try to see the numbers. And you learn about things you can't control. Guys like Will Clark and me, we're like a golden trophy, a big golden egg everybody wants to see day in and day out. We have to produce. That's why we work extra hard in the off-season, and just as hard in the season. But we're more dependent on the other players than anybody thinks. We're more dependent on them than they are on us. They'll say, "Barry Bonds, we can't win without him." They seem to forget that I need Royce Clayton on base for me to produce, I need freaking Robby Thompson on base. We are the average Joe Blow good athletes without those little guys around us. They're the ones who put the puzzle together. If I have Robby Thompson and Willie McGee hitting .190 ahead of me, I'm not driving in a lot of runs. That's why I admire the little guys, the smaller athletes who have to work three times as hard to do their job. I really look up to a guy like [former Pirates catcher] Mike LaValliere. When you think about what he has to go through to keep himself in shape and be an outstanding catcher in the major leagues—am I going to sit back, take it easy and not work as hard as he does? I couldn't live with myself.

[Q] Playboy: What other active players do you admire?

[A] Bonds: Guys who were playing when I was a kid. Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield. Nolan Ryan is the biggest of all. I faced him in spring training. He struck me out three times in a row. Three pitches every time. One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three. I was in awe. Nolan Ryan played with my dad on the Angels. Now I'm on the field with him. My dad said, "Don't think about it. Just play like you played in high school." I was like, "Are you kidding? This is Nolan Ryan." But you get used to it. If you can see the ball, you can hit it. Time and experience help, too. You see things faster. You can tell a fastball or a slider by the way it spins. Or if the ball starts way up high it has to come down—obviously that's a curveball. As soon as it leaves the pitcher's hand I'm thinking curveball. You can go through a thousand thoughts in that split second, but what it comes down to is to see it and hit it. I'm arrogant enough to do that.

[Q] Playboy: What does arrogance have to do with it?

[A] Bonds: Arrogance is why I'm a butt on the field at times. That field is my home and I don't want anybody invading my home. When I go to the ballpark, leave me alone! This is my castle. You don't have any right to interfere with me here. And that's how it is with pitchers, too. The mound is yours, but this batter's box and home plate are mine. I won't invade your space. Don't invade mine. If you put that pitch in the way of my progress, I'm going to knock the hell out of it.

[Q] Playboy: You've been knocked pretty hard in the press. Do you deserve it?

[A] Bonds: Some of it. Some of it might be jealousy, or prejudice. Sometimes my mouth gets me in trouble. But I look at it like this: Everybody watches everything I do. It's like Richard Pryor says: "When I fart, everybody hears it." Some other guy farts and it's no big deal. Somebody hits a home run and says, "Damn, I crushed that ball." If I say that, it's bragging. Why can't I feel good like he did? Sometimes you can't win, though. I've signed a thousand autographs in a day. You could sign two thousand but it's not enough. I say thank you to them. Thank you, thank you. Then it's "Thanks, but I've signed enough," and I walk to my car but they still come. They hound you till you say, "Leave me alone, please." If I've been polite, shouldn't I get the common courtesy of being able to go home? No, they say, "Oh, you're too good now. You make so damn much money, this is how you treat people?" Plus, I see the same faces all the time. They're getting your autograph to sell it, and they mess it up for everybody else.

[Q] Playboy: Now that you've made a name for yourself, you're sick of writing it over and over, at least for the same people.

[A] Bonds: People I barely knew in school expect things. We never hung out before, when I had nothing, but we're supposed to now? They want an autograph, too. They'll say, "You don't want to sign this? You're too good for us?" I say, "No, I'm not, but I didn't come home to sign your piece of paper. I came home to be with my friends and family."

[Q] Playboy: Quite a few sportswriters demonized you, particularly after you turned down the Pirates' offer of $25 million for five years. You were called obnoxious, a spoiled brat, "a symbol of baseball's creeping greed and selfishness, complete with diamond earring." You were a detriment to the club even with 33 homers and 114 RBIs.

[A] Bonds: Hey, if the press paid me, I'd be giving interviews all day. They don't. They come around all the time before a game, when I have to prepare. I have to stretch, think about the game, get ready to do my job. So a lot of times I won't talk. Maybe they get mad, so they write that way.

[Q] Playboy: How do you fight back?

[A] Bonds: When people who wish they could play baseball get down on me because I'm not perfect, I say, "I bet I could do better at your job than you could do at mine." I could go back to school and study and become a lawyer, but could a lawyer become a good athlete? Probably not. I could learn how to press Record on a tape recorder and write for a newspaper or a magazine. But could you ever be good in baseball? Probably not. So don't degrade what I do, because I could put you to zero.

[Q] Playboy: What's the most unfair thing writers say about ballplayers?

[A] Bonds: That we don't try. I don't think any major-league player doesn't try. It's embarrassing to drop a fly ball. It's embarrassing to strike out. You're just not going to go out in front of thirty thousand people and embarrass yourself.

[Q] Playboy: Do you get really angry about bad press?

[A] Bonds: Words don't affect me. You can't bother me verbally. Sometimes you can on a personal level, maybe, but not professionally. Professionally, I couldn't care less what people think. Applaud, enjoy the show. I don't need your sympathy.

[Q] Playboy: On a personal level, though, you're a pretty emotional guy. You cried when you were placed on the disabled list last year.

[A] Bonds: It's been a big pride thing for me that I never went on the DL. When it happened, man, I never cried more in my life. I had spankings from my dad and my mom, a freaking chipped bone in my knee. But nothing was more painful than going on the disabled list. I'd rather be out there stumbling around with people booing and screaming than be helpless like that. But I just couldn't swing. I had torn a muscle in my side. I kept saying I didn't want to go on the list, but I couldn't even pick up a bat. Kent Biggerstaff, the Pirates' trainer, told me they were disabling me. I went berserk. Throwing everything out of my locker, turning the locker room upside down. Tears hurt. Then I was down on my hands and knees, helpless. The guys were on the field. I couldn't even go out on the field. I wasn't dressed. And not being in uniform for the first time in my whole career, I was thinking, Oh, this ain't right.

I watched the game on TV in the locker room, yelling and screaming: "Don't swing, dude!" Or "How could he take that pitch?" I thought, Dang, put me in the stands and I'd be as bad as everybody else. But you become a fan. I was just tripping out: "Andy, what are you doing?" "Jose, swing the bat!" I was like that for three weeks, the whole time I was disabled. I wanted them to win so bad I couldn't believe it. And they kept winning, which made me think maybe I wasn't as important as I thought.

[Q] Playboy: You came off the DL on the Fourth of July against the Reds' Greg Swindell. Were you nervous?

[A] Bonds: The first at bat, I was scared. I knew that if I tore it again I was out for the season. But I had to get that first swing out of the way. So I swung as hard as I could. I literally closed my eyes and swung. Missed it by a mile.

[Q] Playboy: You've mentioned fear a few times already. Is there really so much to be afraid of?

[A] Bonds: There's a lot. I get afraid on the field all the time. You fail in baseball. Go three for ten, .300, that's seven other times you screwed up. If you have some success against Lee Smith, it might give you some added courage the next time. But it still was only that one time. You can also be afraid of the baseball, getting hit by the ball, but I've never been afraid of pain. Not baseball pain.

[Q] Playboy: What kind of pain, then?

[A] Bonds: Emotional. I'm afraid of myself, I guess. You're always worried about others in the game—coming up after you, wanting your job or more money or fame, even guys on your own team—but mostly it's myself, being afraid of when baseball might end. A lot of things can happen. An injury, or just time passing. Maybe I'll get bored one day and not want to play anymore. Or just get older and lose it. Not be good anymore. I get tired faster than I used to. I think I'm smarter now, smarter and better, but sometimes when I run I feel a little slower. I'm going to miss it when it's over. I'm not the old-timers' game type.

[Q] Playboy: So what you're telling us is that you're basically a terrified, melancholy bundle of nerves on the field.

[A] Bonds: Not so much on the field. That's where I'm comfortable. I've had some serious problems, but not out there in my castle. There was a time when I thought my wife and my family wanted to hurt my career, just because they wanted my time. I'd say, "There's no way I'm giving up my career for you." They never asked me to, but I was always reminding them. "If you think I'm going to do that, forget it."

[Q] Playboy: Why did you remind them?

[A] Bonds: I think it was just stupidity on my part. I am more loyal to my wife and kids and parents than to the game, but I'm married to the game, too. There are things I have to accomplish. I want that World Series ring. Of course, to do that I'll have to stop stinking in the playoffs.

[Q] Playboy: Your dad never went to the Series, either.

[A] Bonds: We're hoping we can go together this year.

[Q] Playboy: What do you remember about your father's playing days?

[A] Bonds: Going to games with him when he was with the Giants. Running around on the field. I remember my dad and Willie going up against the fence, making catches. I wasn't much of a fan. My friends knew more about his stats than I did. I was playing little baseball games in the clubhouse with the other guys' children. Tito Fuentes' kids, Gloria and little Tito. Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal had all girls, but they would play. Later, when my dad was with the Yankees, Sandy Alomar, Jr. We'd use those little bats they gave away on Bat Day. We'd step on beer cups, mush them all together to make baseballs and knock them all over the place.

In the summer, when school was out, my mom would take us to wherever my dad was playing to see his games. But a lot of the time he wasn't around. I learned most of my baseball from playing with friends. I had some good school coaches, too.

[Q] Playboy: When you were nine years old your dad hit 39 homers for the Giants. He was an All-Star.

[A] Bonds: It's hard on you when you have a famous father. Everybody thinks he does everything for you. Your friends are always reminding you. I hit almost .500 in high school. What bat did he swing for me? You get tired of hearing, "Oh, it's because of your dad." It's nobody's fault, it's just life—we're best friends now—but when you're a kid you get tired of hearing about your father all the time. I really remember more about my mom. She did everything for us. She always took me to baseball or football practice. She always wrote "from Dad" on the Christmas presents. My mom was at all the school events. My dad never went. He was playing baseball.

[Q] Playboy: He must have instilled some competitive drive in his sons. When he was home, he'd play games with you—pool, mostly—and the loser had to do push-ups.

[A] Bonds: Yeah, a lot of push-ups. You had to do them. But if you won, you got to pick your favorite candy bar.

[Q] Playboy: And watch your dad do his push-ups for you. That must have been almost as good as the candy.

[A] Bonds: I didn't like my dad that much. We didn't become close until I was in college. I resented him when I was a kid. Not that he was abusive. There's a fine line between abuse and discipline. I don't like people who turned out good saying, "I was abused." I can't say that. I can say he whupped my butt plenty of times, and sometimes I didn't feel I deserved it. Most of the time he would give you the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes he'd hit you with his hand. Smack your leg. "Don't lie to me!" When I was ten or eleven years old it stopped—you'd just get grounded after that—but before that, we got our share of spankings. It would hurt your feelings more than anything else. But if you didn't cry, it was like you were showing him up. And don't cry too much, either. He knew it didn't hurt that bad. So you just cried and apologized, and he was cool.

[Q] Playboy: You had to cry correctly?

[A] Bonds: You had to know how to cry.

[Q] Playboy: What did you do to earn a spanking or a leg slap?

[A] Bonds: Disobey. Hit a ball through a window after he told us not to play in the backyard. You couldn't lie. You'd just tell the truth and he'd let you go. He was very direct. Why doesn't fit in his vocabulary. If you let a ground ball go through your legs and you tried, fine. Just don't come in with an excuse. Say, "I screwed up." If you jump off the roof, don't say your brother pushed you. Say, "I felt like jumping, Dad. I could have hurt myself, you're right, but I just felt like it." He'd say, "Well, don't do it again." He'd never punish you for telling the truth. You could stop a lot of spankings that way.

[Q] Playboy: Other than playing pool for push-ups, what kinds of things did you do with him when you were little?

[A] Bonds: He took me out on a boat fishing with him all the time. I hated it. I got seasick. He'd say, "You're my son. Let's go." But I was a mama's boy. I'd rather watch my mom put her makeup on. Or put on a wig and dance with her; we would both pretend we were Janet Jackson. She'd say; "Go with your father." We always bitched that we never got to see him, but when he wanted to do something I'd be whining, "Mom, I'm not going."

I wouldn't play golf with him because I'd end up being his caddy. He tried to make it fun, though. He'd get an extra cart for me and my brother to drive, but we'd just sit in the cart. You know how kids are—nothing their parents do can ever be right. I think I devalued a lot of the good things he tried to do. He was just being Big Dad. People who complain about their parents, I really hate that. If you think you turned out pretty good, be happy with your parents. They drove you to be what you are.

[Q] Playboy: Were you rebellious as a teenager?

[A] Bonds: No more than anybody else. I'd cut school, get in a little trouble, to see what I could get away with. But I told my parents. I told my dad I smoked a joint. I told him I smoked cigarettes. Smoking joints—I stopped that stuff right away on my own. With the cigarettes, he and Mom made me smoke a whole pack right in front of them. Cigarette after cigarette. It worked pretty well. I got sick and didn't touch those things for a long time.

[Q] Playboy: Did he talk to you about sex?

[A] Bonds: No, he knew I wasn't going to say what he wanted to hear. He would never say, "How are you doing with the girls? You getting laid?" Yeah, sure, Dad. Like I'm going to tell you voluntarily. He would say one thing: "I have no control over what you do outside this house, but if I'm a grandfather before I want to be, I'll break your neck." He was laughing, so you knew he was cool about it. My parents were always open with us. My mom and dad were naked all the time. Nobody cared about nudity. I shared a room with my sister. I knew about tampons when I was ten. I think you grow up healthier that way.

My own family is like that now. My wife is from Sweden, man. Nudity's all they do.

[Q] Playboy: Ballplayers do it, too, they say, especially on the road. Before you were married in 1988, you were a young star making $100,000. How was life as a big-league bachelor?

[A] Bonds: It was great. You swallow it up too much at first, but I think you deserve it. It's a big deal, being in the big leagues. Suddenly you have girls, groupies, money, pulling you in each and ever)' direction. Anyone who doesn't like that isn't human. It's exciting. I was twenty-one years old, ripping and running the streets. Fame, girls, everything. You have one girl late one night. You're up until four in the morning with this person or that. It was one big party. But you outgrow it. You have to, because it wears you down. You never sleep. It can mess up your career, so you outgrow it.

[Q] Playboy: Was there a particular Baseball Annie in every port for every Pirate?

[A] Bonds: The groupie girls, most of them were taken anyway, so you don't really get into them. I may have had two girlfriends at a time; it was hard enough to entertain one, let alone two. People think athletes are always with those same publicized groupies, but you're afraid of them more than anything else.

[Q] Playboy: Are ballplayers worried about AIDS?

[A] Bonds: I think you know who you're messing around with. If you're messing around with somebody who's messing around with everybody, then you know what you're getting into. Just don't make excuses. Magic Johnson accommodated a lot of people, which was probably his own fault. You cannot fault the man for spreading the disease because he did not "know, and he doesn't blame anyone but himself. Now he tells people to practice safe sex. That's the key, safe sex.

[Q] Playboy: Did you practice safe sex?

[A] Bonds: I can't say I did. Not all the time. I can just tell you that I was lucky. Very, very lucky.

[Q] Playboy: Is Aids changing athletes' lives?

[A] Bonds: Oh yeah. Times are changing. If you're gonna do what you have to do, you better make sure it's safe. But the life is more family-oriented now. It's not so much running the streets chasing women. Guys are spending time with their families.

[Q] Playboy: Let's talk about yours. You married Sun in 1988, a little over a year before you matured into an MVP. She's petite, you're a big guy. She's quiet, you can be lous. She's white, you're black. How did you get together?

[A] Bonds: We met at a nightclub in Montreal in 1987. Sun was a bartender. I wound up going to another club and she went to the same place with a girlfriend. We danced, talked, had some fun. I wouldn't say it was love at first sight because I don't believe in that, but it was chemistry. We met each other's needs. We fit together. [Laughs] When you have a hole and a screw, and the screw fits, it makes everything tight and you stay put.

[Q] Playboy: What were your needs?

[A] Bonds: I had to settle down. I was running the streets too much, losing my desire to play baseball. She gave me something to shoot for, someone to play for. If it weren't for Sun I wouldn't have two MVP trophies. She's probably the most intelligent woman I ever met. Being from Sweden, where they don't have much television, she reads all the time and she's a quick learner. She'd never lived in the States, but she got her high school equivalency diploma without studying. I gave her the driver's license manual, she read it and passed the test the next day, perfect score. And she is a great mother. Sun has more patience than toilet paper. I tell her, "Toilet paper just sits there and waits. It sits there and waits, just like you."

[Q] Playboy: She must think that's awfully flattering.

[A] Bonds: No, but I like to kid her.

[Q] Playboy: What was it that you provided for her?

[A] Bonds: Stability, I guess. I had a job. I had my own condominium. I was making a hundred thousand dollars, which was a lot when I was single. It started to run out a little after that, but that's part of the price. We have two lovely kids, and there's something else I like: Our families are great together. They accepted one another from day one. You see, in Sweden there's no color barrier. "You love my daughter, and that's all that matters." It was the same with my parents: "You love our son, then it's fine." There's no jealousy, no prejudice, no color involved. That's how people should be.

[Q] Playboy: Was Sun a baseball fan?

[A] Bonds: Sun couldn't care less. She didn't know what a Scoreboard was. I think that's what made us click. It wasn't about money or anything like that. She just thought I was a handsome guy. She came to a game in Montreal while we were dating. She sat down and she sat so tall. My wife's only five-three, but to me she was the biggest, prettiest woman in the place. I didn't wave or anything—I'm very professional on the field—but I knew she was there. I'll never forget the black dress she had on. And a black jacket. And I'm out there thinking, Man, I'm marrying this girl!

[Q] Playboy: When you were on Arsenio Hall's show, he seemed surprised that you took Sun along one night to go clubbing with him.

[A] Bonds: He likes it that I go out with my wife and she can handle it, knowing that women will be all over me. She doesn't trip out. She just sits while I do my duty: "Hi, how about a hug?" It's hard on her. Sun likes her privacy. But she knew exactly what she was getting when she married me. It's a package deal; she married public property.

[Q] Playboy: You have a son, Nikolai, who is three, and a daughter, Shikari, who's ¦two. What have you learned about being a dad?

[A] Bonds: I didn't know what a full-time job it would be. We could have all the nannies we wanted, but we want to take care of our own children. You wouldn't trade it for anything, but it's a job. Sometimes you wish it were easier. And you think back to how you were raised and all the times your parents said, "Wait till you have kids of your own." All the things you said you'd never do—you'd never spank your kids, or yell at them. You'd let them do what they wanted. Yeah, right. It's fun because you know you were sticking your foot in your mouth when you were little. That's what having kids is, putting your foot in your mouth. You start giving your own parents the benefit of the doubt.

[Q] Playboy: What do Nikolai and Shikari think about baseball?

[A] Bonds: My son goes to the batting cage with me. He's three and he's already hitting. He knows what I do, but my daughter doesn't comprehend it. Whatever her brother says, she says. When he says, "Daddy hit a home run," she says, "Home run," so I have a two-home-run day.

[Q] Playboy: You've never had a two-homer day at Candlestick Park, your new home. In fact, you have hit only four of your 176 career homers there. You once said you'd never play for the Giants "because it's cold and they need a new stadium." Other than $43.75 million, what changed your mind?

[A] Bonds: The thought that I won't be on the visiting team. One thing I really hated about Candlestick Park was the accommodations for the other team. There are heaters and bathrooms in the home dugout, but not in the visitors' dugout. For the visitors there's no bathroom, no heat, no nothing. It's windy and cold. If you have to go to the bathroom, you have to run across the field in front of all those people, all the way back to the clubhouse. But the home team has bathrooms. The home team has heaters. I'm the home team now, so I hope they don't change it. Let them stay miserable on the visiting side.

[Q] Playboy: What happens on and around the field that the fans don't see?

[A] Bonds: The reality. The fact that it's not as easy as it looks. But there's other stuff, crazy things. Deion Sanders has a pair of lucky underwear shorts he's been wearing since college. [Former Pirates infielder] Chico Lind had real knives in his locker, big Rambo knives; he would take a fake knife and stab you, give you a heart attack. There's crud done to rookies. You send a rookie to baggage claim so he misses the bus to the hotel, or tape him up and throw food on him so the birds will fly down and peck the food—but I never did that much. I'd rather be with my friends. Bobby Bonilla is my best friend and always will be. We came up together, played A-ball together. One time we were playing down in the minors and I struck out three straight times. Bobby had the whole team throw their hats on the field for my hat trick. Bobby Bo and I are close. We're going to open a Harley store together. We love that motorcycle. 1 have two Fatboys. Bobby has one, too. His is black and it's beautiful—the tank and all the trim are twenty-four-karat gold.

[Q] Playboy: Did you really call your buddy Gary Sheffield last year to say you were going to pass him in home runs?

[A] Bonds: I was kidding. There was no way. My heart said I could do it, but my brain said, You're crazy. Right after I said it, that night, he hit two and had thirty already. I was almost ten behind. It was September and I'd had a bad August, but I told [hitting coach] Milt May, "Something tells me I can do it." I went for it. Beat him thirty-four to thirty-three.

[Q] Playboy: After that, you lost a heart-breaker in the National League playoffs. Did you watch the World Series on TV? It's hard to imagine whom you would root for.

[A] Bonds: Toronto. I liked Atlanta because I know those guys, but I was for the underdog.

[Q] Playboy: What do you think of the baseball skills of some of the celebrities you've seen?

[A] Bonds: Michael Jordan came to Pittsburgh and took batting practice. He can hit. But then he threw to me in the batting cage and almost hit me. And a couple years ago in spring training, a guy in a Tigers uniform was talking to me about hitting, asking a lot of questions. It was weird because ballplayers don't do that to other players. So I tell him, "Hey, see the ball, hit the ball." He says, "Man, the ball jumps off your bat," and I'm like, yeah, thanks. Then I look and the back of his jersey says Selleck on it. I'm thinking this dude looks familiar, but I still haven't put two and two together when somebody asks me how it was talking to Tom Selleck. I was so embarrassed. "There's no freaking way I was standing right next to him and didn't know it." My wife thinks he's gorgeous. He can hit, too. He's huge, six-four or something—he's not too keen on fork-balls and stuff, but throw it straight and he'll hit it.

[Q] Playboy: You're also friends with Magic Johnson.

[A] Bonds: I went to his Super Bowl party. He's always friendly, always lovable, just a super man. I love him to death. It was crushing, what happened to him, but he took it like a man. I was proud of him for standing up and facing his problem. When people tried to label him, to say he was gay—that's a bunch of crud. So when I see him I always hug him. I kiss him on the cheek. He's one of my idols.

[Q] Playboy: Lately, there seems to be a lot more mingling of sports stars and entertainers, sort of a bicoastal hot tub full of people who have been on the covers of People and Sports Illustrated. Is the line between jocks and other celebs dissolving?

[A] Bonds: We're all entertainers. Acting, singing, sports, we're all entertainers and we all make millions. What's cool is that they love you as much as you love them. I'm in awe of all of them, but a lot of actors, for instance, are sports fans, so they can be in awe of me, too. Although there are some with their noses up. Like when I did the NAACP Image Awards. I don't want to name names and hurt people, but some of those stars wouldn't even say hello. I thought, Come on. If you make a million more than me, that's only one extra boat you can buy, so who gives a damn? Look at Michael Jackson. He's the greatest entertainer in the world, but ever since he was a kid, he probably just wanted to go outside and play baseball with the guys. That's why I said on Arsenio, "Michael, you're invited to come play ball with me and my friends any time you want. We'll close down the stadium and play with you. Of course, if you really can't play, you'll have to sit on the bench. You can't moonwalk on the field." I haven't heard from him. I still like him, though. And you know what pisses me off? The way he gets treated. He has never said anything derogatory about anyone. He's never been a drunk driver. You don't hear he's used drugs. Yet people downgrade him because he wants to do his own thing. But if you were in his shoes, with his money and his fame and his life, you would, too. So tip your hat to him. Tip your hat to goodness, that's what I say. There's enough crap in the world.

[Q] Playboy: One reason he's talked about is his appearance—and the way it keeps changing.

[A] Bonds: So what? Go to Hollywood, see all the women with breast jobs and facelifts. He was right when he said Beverly Hills would not exist without all that. Go to Roxbury or one of those other nightclubs and you walk into a big—excuse my French—titty farm. Boobs and faces lifted all over. Why does he get criticized? All he does is donate $50 million to charity. What is he supposed to give, hundreds of millions? To me he's a black hero, and we don't have many. It's always the same: It's "Oh, how great Elvis was." But Elvis Presley was on drugs. The Rolling Stones, too. Michael Jackson has never done anything wrong, so give him a break.

[Q] Playboy: Done. Meanwhile, you've gone a little Hollywood yourself. You did a cameo in a film called Rookie of the Year and just finished a new TV movie, Jane's House, with James Woods and Anne Archer.

[A] Bonds: Anne Archer is so fine. I was in heat the whole time. I'll tell you another thing I liked: One day we were shooting in a mall. People kept asking for my autograph. The producer said, "Funny—we have one of the top actors in the country and one of the top actresses, and everybody wants your autograph." I said, "You know why? We're in a sporting goods store, boy. You're on my turf now."

[Q] Playboy: Who do you play in Rookie of the Year and Jane's House?

[A] Bonds: Myself. It's pretty easy to do. I want to play someone else. I want to act. James Woods and Anne Archer gave me a great compliment. They said I should think seriously about acting, since I was pretty good for never having done it before. But I'm not a natural. I know that the only way for me to get better is to work at it.

[Q] Playboy: You've said you aren't troubled by nudity at home. How about the workplace? Some players don't want women in the locker room.

[A] Bonds: That doesn't bother me at all. Women reporters are professionals, too. A hundred percent of the women in men's locker rooms are professional. It's not like they're sitting there looking and slobbering.

[Q] Playboy: Why do you think it has been such an issue for so many pro athletes?

[A] Bonds: Male ego. That's all it is. Do you think a woman reporter never saw a naked man or heard the word shit? She knows what comes with the territory, and she's not stealing anything from you, so get off your high horse. What's so important about a locker room anyway? It's a stinky place where you take a shower and then leave.

[Q] Playboy: There's no shortage of male bonding in sports, where guys stick together. Who were your mentors?

[A] Bonds: Dave Stephens, my high school coach, took me under his wing. My dad was always gone, so I'd be over at Dave's house. I was like his second son. My dad and I finally became friends when I was in college. He and Willie and I talk a lot about hitting, and they were the ones telling me to start dedicating myself a few years ago, saying I couldn't just sit on my butt in the off-season if I wanted to be in the Hall of Fame. Dusty Baker, my new manager, grew up with my dad. I've known him since I was a baby. He's a man I respect. But I will never forget Jim Leyland. That man is the best. More than the strategy he brings to the game, what makes him a great manager is the way he relates to you. Leyland deals with you head to head, man to man. He knows you're not in boot camp. You get as much leeway as you want as long as you play by the rules, and he really has only one rule. Be on time. He doesn't care how you get to work, he doesn't care what you wear. Just be on time and give him three hours of your time. I'm going to miss him.

[Q] Playboy: And yet you had that celebrated shouting match with him at spring training in 1991. You started yelling and he was heard to say, "I've kissed your butt for three years. No one player is going to ruin this camp. If you don't like it, you can go home."

[A] Bonds: Why do you bring that up? It's bad.

[Q] Playboy: It happened. You had lost your arbitration case against the Pirates and had to settle for a $2.3 million salary instead of the $3.3 million you wanted. Then you had a personal photographer, a friend, taking pictures of you at camp and you told other photographers to get out of your face. You even shoved one of them. Coach Bill Virdon and the Pirates' PR man objected. You hollered at them, and Leyland came after you.

[A] Bonds: The press keeps bringing that up.

[Q] Playboy: Your dad told us he thinks the Pirates arranged the incident because they wanted to make you look bad, maybe to alienate your Pittsburgh fans—to keep the fans on the club's side in your battles over money. That's why there happened to be a TV camera and microphone nearby.

[A] Bonds: It wasn't an accident. They set me up.

[Q] Playboy: Do you really think that?

[A] Bonds: Why would a microphone and TV crew be right there at that time? Just to stir up shit. The funny thing is, my dad told me before I went to spring training, "They're going to set you up when you get there." He was right. After that, for the first time in my life, I didn't want to play. I started out seventeen for a hundred, .170. I felt raped, almost. I knew how a woman who was raped felt. I couldn't hit, couldn't play until I got that off my back.

[Q] Playboy: How did you get it off your back?

[A] Bonds: Leyland did it. He called a press conference. He said, "Leave him alone. With all that Barry Bonds has brought to this city, it's time to get off his back." I'll never forget that, not as long as I live. My whole season turned around. And later in the season, even after the season, we talked. He said, "Barry, I wish you well. You deserve every penny you get. You're the best baseball player, you deserve to be paid the best. For three years you worked harder than any athlete I've ever seen, and I'm damn proud of you." You can't forget a man like that.

[Q] Playboy: How will you remember him?

[A] Bonds: He made me better. I could say anything I wanted to him. If I didn't like him that day I'd say, "You know, I don't like you, you little midget. You're not even an athlete. You can't hit. You never even played in the big leagues."

[Q] Playboy: What did he say to that?

[A] Bonds: Oh, he rode my butt. "Hey, Barry, if I tell you I like you, you'll just want me not to like you. That's what you thrive on. If I give you any sense that I like you, you're thinking, No, don't. You want me to like you but you're just not sure."

[Q] Playboy: Was he right?

[A] Bonds: Probably.

[Q] Playboy: All this sounds Freudian enough to justify a question out of left field. When you dream at night, is it baseball?

[A] Bonds: All the time. I dream I'm at the ballpark. I hit a home run, run the bases. Then I hit another one. I hit three. I hit four. Now I have a chance to hit five and break the all-time record. All of a sudden I'm at a zoo, or up on top of the Empire State Building, trying to get back to Shea Stadium to play the Mets. I can see they're trying to find me. But they go, "Wait a minute, he's gone," and they send up a pinch hitter.

[Q] Playboy: Does he hit the fifth home run?

[A] Bonds: I don't know. That's when I wake up.

[Q] Playboy: In your dream are you still in a Pirates uniform, or are you a Giant?

[A] Bonds: It's just a baseball uniform, just baseball.

[Q] Playboy: When we were talking about Michael Jackson you implied that the reason he gets more criticism than Elvis or the Rolling Stones is simple racism. Baseball isn't exactly free of it. Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended for racism: keeping a swastika on her desk, allegedly referring to some black players as "million-dollar niggers." Would you be willing to play on Schott's team?

[A] Bonds: As long as she gave me my check every two weeks. What she said was degrading, but I doubt that we've all said only nice things about people all our lives. What she did was wrong, just like it would be wrong to go out of the privacy of your home and call Marge a white piece of trash. She got caught, now she's being punished.

Prejudice is childish and stupid. Someone else's culture, their history, should be amazing to people, not a burden. But there's prejudice everywhere. My wife is half Swedish and half Portuguese. I'm Afro-American. So if you're like some prejudiced people you might want to say something to me about what I am doing married to her. But the thing is, why would you care? Are you jealous because she's married to me? Are you jealous because I'm married to her? Even if I weren't married to her, I ain't going to marry you, so what's the difference? I mean, if I were single, I wouldn't even date you.

[Q] Playboy: Early in his career, your dad (concluded on page 148)Barry Bonds(continued from page 72) wasn't allowed in whites-only hotels and restaurants in the South. Life was even harder for his father, a black man living in prewar America.

[A] Bonds: My grandfather grew up in a time when black people used to have to walk on the other side of the street, and he was never angry about it. That seemed weird to me. When he would tell about some guy calling him boy or nigger, treating him like dirt, I'd say, "Man, I would have killed him. Ain't nobody going to degrade me like that." But my grandfather said, "If you were born at that time, that was how it was. No, I would not put up with it now, but that was the way we had to live then."

[Q] Playboy: Did you feel outrage for him?

[A] Bonds: I felt happy, because of the way he turned out. My grandfather had a lot of reasons to be bitter and hateful but he wasn't. He didn't have a stitch of prejudice in him.

[Q] Playboy: How do you think you would react to the bigotry he put up with?

[A] Bonds: I couldn't deal with it now. But if I'd been born back then I guess I would put up with it, because I would have to. You could be killed if you didn't. I don't have to deal with anything like that, which is a good thing about society today. Life is easier for me than it was for him.

[Q] Playboy: But society isn't color-blind yet.

[A] Bonds: No, it's not. Look at Mike Tyson in jail. The Clarence Thomas situation with Anita Hill, that's a big deal. Steve Howe got suspended for drugs eighty thousand times and he's back in baseball. Is that discrimination? I don't know, but it's upsetting. Where does it come from? What are people afraid of? Everybody fights together when there's a war. The whole country comes together, then the war is over and everybody's separate again. I wish there weren't any black and white, but there is. We can't change that, so let's try to enjoy the show together.

[Q] Playboy: Your father in his day was considered one of the more militant black ballplayers. That may be one reason he was traded seven times. You seem to be more philosophical.

[A] Bonds: I just think it's sad, the way things are even today. There are only so many black celebrities. Let us enjoy them. There's just a handful of us. All we can do is say, "Please, let us have ours." If it's me or Willie Mays or Jackie Robinson, do you have to say, 'Jackie Robinson was a drug addict"? How can you criticize him when he couldn't stay at your hotel? Do you know how Mandela felt in prison? How can you make any kind of judgment when you never walked down the street with Martin Luther King? We have only a few heroes. Let us cherish our own, the little that we have. That's not asking too much.

[Q] Playboy: How do you want to be remembered?

[A] Bonds: I'm going to be forgotten, probably. I may never make the Hall of Fame. I haven't done anything yet to make it. But I want to go to the Hall of Fame, partly because of my father. Not for the status or anything. I just want my photo or my glove or my bat there, to say that this is my family and I was part of it and a part of baseball.

"Guys like me, we're a golden trophy, a big golden egg everybody wants to see."

Photography by David Mecey
I didn't like my dad that much. We didn't become close until I was in college. Not that he was abusive. There's a fine line between abuse and discipline. I don't like people who turned out good saying, 'I was abused.'"
Photography by David Mecey
"I can be arrogant on the field. I'm doing my job, giving the people what they paid for. Entertainment. When I'm tapping my glove to say it's mine, you can't miss my gesture. It's like I'm moonwalking across the field."
Photography by David Mecey
"It's a big deal, being in the big leagues. Suddenly you have girls, groupies, money, pulling you in each and every direction. It was great. It was one big party. Anyone who doesn't like that isn't human."