The G.O.A.T. returned home on Tuesday.
Roughly 35 years after he arrived on campus as a baby-faced freshman with a man’s swing, Barry Bonds made the trek back to Tempe as the special guest of the Arizona State Sun Devils before their mid-week non-conference tilt against UNLV.
“It’s special. Anytime you come back to your alma mater it’s awesome. Nothing better than that,” Bonds said. “Playing baseball as a kid, and being able to go back to high school and come back to your college and be recognized - it’s always special.”
Bonds’ time in Tempe served as a precedent for the numbers he’d put up in the pros, batting above .300 in all three of his seasons as a Sun Devil and topping out at .368 with 22 homers in his junior season. The former Sun Devils’ 22-season MLB career saw him rise to national fame and notoriety, winning seven NL MVP’s and breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record in 2007 while also serving as one of the faces of the league’s steroid scandal in the 2000’s.
Well-separated from his playing career and well-into his new career as a hitting coach - working this season with the Giants after wetting his feet with the Miami Marlins, Bonds’ impact on the Sun Devil baseball program is tangible.
“It’s cool to come to spring training the same place you went to college. How many people can say that,” Bonds said. “It’s just better from the seats.”
From his days as a high school athlete looking up to ASU greats to being on the pantheon of ASU’s greatest, it’s come full-circle for Bonds.
“I came here because of Reggie Jackson and Alvin Davis. In my family we always knew about Arizona State and the tradition,” he said. “It speaks for itself. Great weather, great baseball and a community throughout Arizona that produces good baseball players, period.”
“I don’t think I stand out anywhere in that, just get your name on the board. I don’t think that I’m above anyone else.”