Barry Bonds will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame – no, not that one

Barry Bonds will join his former manager Jim Leyland as a member of the Pirates Hall of Fame. (Richard Maxon/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

It’s not Cooperstown.

But Barry Bonds is a new member of the Hall of Fame.

the The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Tuesday They are inducting Bonds into the team’s Hall of Fame. He will join a class that includes his former manager Jim Leyland and 1970s star catcher Manny Sanguilin. The team will hold a concert at PNC Park on August 24.

“What can you say?” Bonds said, according to the Pirates’ announcement. “I’m at a loss for words. To be able to tell my kids, ‘Your dad’s inducted into the Pirate Hall of Fame,’ that was really cool. It’ll be great to go back to where it all started.”

Of course, Bonds can’t tell his kids that he’s a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Despite his status as the most feared player of his generation and of all time, Bonds is not welcome in Cooperstown. His high-profile association with baseball’s steroid era in the 1990s and early 2000s led to his ouster.

Bond’s credentials are untouchable. He is a seven-time MVP, a 14-time All-Star, an eight-time Gold Glover, and a two-time batting champion. He’s also baseball’s single-season (73) and career (762) home run king. That is, if you’re willing to acknowledge the home runs he hit during said steroid era.

Many Baseball Hall of Fame voters are not. Bonds fell short for the 10th time in his 10th and final season of eligibility on the 2022 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. His 66% vote share that year was well below the honor’s threshold of 75%. He remains eligible through committee votes, but nothing suggests baseball’s gatekeepers are ready to welcome Bonds and the other faces of the steroid era into the Hall of Fame.

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But the Pirates are keen to acknowledge Bonds’ achievements in the franchise. He joined the Pirates as a rookie in 1986 and spent his first seven MLB seasons in Pittsburgh. He made two All-Star teams and won his first two MVPs with the Buccaneers before joining the San Francisco Giants in 1993. There, he finished his career as a perennial MVP contender and five-time winner over 15 seasons.

Bonds’ seasons in Pittsburgh are not associated with the steroid era. Playing with a noticeably smaller frame than in San Francisco, Bonds slashed .275/.380/.503 while averaging 25 home runs, 79 RBI and 36 stolen bases per season. He finished his career in Pittsburgh with 33, 25 and 34 home runs, respectively in his final three seasons — high totals but nothing like what would come in San Francisco.

In 15 seasons with the Giants, Bonds matched or surpassed Pittsburgh’s home run high (34) 11 times (46, 37, 42, 40, 37, 34, 49, 73, 46, 45, 45). He slashed .312/.477/.666 while averaging 39 home runs and 96 RBI per season. Despite repeatedly leading the league in walks (11 times) and on-base percentage (eight times) in San Francisco, he saw a sharp decline in stolen bases (17.5 per season).

This Pirates tribute is about Bonds’ early MLB days. Obviously, whether he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame won’t matter much to Bonds on August 24. And he seems really stoked to be part of the Pittsburgh class.

“Leland and I are going to have to try to control our emotions, because I think we might cry more that day than actually talk. But it will still be great,” Bonds said.

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