Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are two of the biggest names to ever play for MLB’s Giants. Between the two, they hit more than 1,200 home runs for the franchise. Both are power-hitting outfielders, but their connection goes beyond their playing careers.
Bonds’ father, Bobby Bonds, was teammates with Mays in San Francisco, and the two became close friends. This bond between the elder teammates led to a surprising link between Mays and Barry.
Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds
Mays was teammates with the older Bonds from 1968-72, when he was traded to the Mets that May. He was on the backend of his career at the time, while Bobby was beginning his 14-year-career. Bobby went on to play for several teams in the second half of his career. He ended his time in the majors with a .268 average, 332 home runs, and 1,024 RBI.
Mays was a better hitter, batting .302 with 660 home runs, and 1,903 RBI during his 22-year career with the Giants and Mets. The one-time teammates were the first two players in MLB history to reach both the 300-homer and 300-steal milestones.
Barry Bonds’ link with Mays
Barry was born in 1964, 11 days before the Giants signed his father, who was 18 at the time. Mays was a 33-year-old in his 13th season with the team. He mentored Bobby when he joined the big-league club a few years later, after spending some time in the minors.
Bobby started bringing Barry to the clubhouse when he was five years old. The youngster spent a lot of time chasing fly balls on the field with his dad and Mays, who became his godfather.
Barry is so close to Mays that he didn’t want to pass him on the all-time home-run list. Mays’ 660 career homers ranked him third place on the list for decades. But Barry passed him in 2004 on his way to hitting 762 home runs — setting a new all-time mark that’ll be hard for any player to beat.
When he was getting close to Mays’ homer total, Barry said he “love[s] him so much” and that “Willie is the greatest player” to him. He continued, saying he “marvel[ed] at the dude as your hero” and he didn’t know what he would do when he hit No. 661 to send his godfather to fourth place on the home-run list.
Barry’s other family ties
You may think having Bobby as your father and Mays as your godfather would be enough of a familial connection to MLB legends. But Barry’s MLB “family tree” doesn’t end there. Another Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson, is a distant cousin.
Barry’s aunt Rosie Bonds was also an athlete, competing as a hurdler at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Unsurprisingly given who he grew up around, Barry has claimed he could hit a whiffle ball hard enough that it could break glass before he was even in kindergarten.
Baseball wasn’t the only sport he played as a youngster, as Barry also played basketball and football by the time he entered Junipero Serra High School in California. Upon graduating in 1982, he was offered a $75,000 contract from the Giants, but he attended Arizona State when the MLB team denied his request for a bigger contract.
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