Nationals watch record with wonder
Bacsik acknowledges his place in home run history
SAN FRANCISCO -- On Monday night, left-hander Mike Bacsik joked that he and former left-hander Al Downing might be able to do baseball card shows together if Bacsik gave up Barry Bonds' record breaking 756th home run. Downing is the former Dodgers pitcher who gave up Hank Aaron's 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's record.
Bacsik's premonition may come true after all, for he made history by giving up Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run in the bottom of the fifth inning at AT&T Park. Bonds and Aaron were tied at 755 for three days.
Bacsik, 29, became the third pitcher in Nationals history to give up a home run to Bonds. Bacsik had a serious problem getting Bonds out throughout the game. In the second inning, Bonds doubled, and in the next inning, he singled.
In the fifth, Bacsik threw a steady diet of breaking balls. Bonds worked the count to, 3-2, when Bacsik grooved a fastball to Bonds.
The ball was hit in the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center field. It looked like right fielder Austin Kearns might have a bead on it.
"That's the big part of the ballpark right there. I was going after it. You really have to hit it to hit it out there," Kearns said.
But by the time Kearns got to the wall, the ball landed in the stands for the record-breaking home run.
Bacsik acknowledged that he was not happy he gave up the home run at first, but the silver lining was that Washington won the game, 8-6.
"I wish I could have thrown the ball better, but against Barry, I gave him my best stuff from pitch one," Bacsik said. "We had thrown a breaking ball the pitch before and it just went foul. I wanted to go fastball down and away for a strike and, unfortunately, I got it up and down in the middle of the plate and he put his Barry Bonds swing on it.
"I'm part of a special moment that will never be forgotten. I'm going to be the guy who gave it up. As a kid you always dream of this moment. Unfortunately, you dream of the one hitting the home run, not giving it up."
After Bonds touched home plate, Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young and second baseman Felipe Lopez went to the mound to console Bacsik, with Lopez telling Bacsik that the Nationals were going to win the game.
"I'm happy we won today for the team, but as far as excitement, that homer was amazing. I can't lie," Lopez said. "I had goose bumps on me. I was crying on the field. It was awesome. I didn't know I was going to feel like that. I guess it's just that things happen. You love baseball."
After Bonds touched home plate, Bacsik, Lopez, Young and Kearns left the field as the special festivities began for Bonds. Infielders Ryan Zimmerman and Ronnie Belliard, outfielder Ryan Church and Nook Logan and catcher Brian Schneider, however, stayed on the field and gave Bonds several standing ovations.
Nook Logan's eyes welled up as he talked about the special moment after the game.
"I'm speechless. I feel like I had a lot to do with it," Logan said. "I was trying to see who got the ball in the outfield. They were going crazy in the bleachers. I was trying to see if anything broke out."
There was a 10-minute delay because of the festivities for Bonds. Both Bacsik and Bonds left the game after five innings. As the game was going on, Bacsik went to the Giants' locker room to congratulate Bonds and was mesmerized by what he saw in the Giants' clubhouse.
"I just wanted to congratulate him," Bacsik said. "He had Willie McCovey, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson in there. I didn't belong in that room. Those are all Hall of Famers. I just wanted to go in there congratulate him and tell him I wanted to go after him with my best stuff. I didn't want to shy away from the moment and he did it. I tried my best to get him out and he hit the home run.
In the process, Bacsik received an autographed bat from Bonds, which said, "To Mike, God Bless. Barry Bonds."
The home run king then praised Bacsik, telling him that he was a good pitcher and he would be watching him for years to come. Bacsik hopes that is the case. In fact, he hopes to have a career similar to Downing's.
"Al Downing gave up the home run to Hank Aaron. Downing won 20 games and was an All-Star. Now my next goal is to win 20 games and be an All-Star," Bacsik said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.