Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game

By George Castle | Go to book overview

FIVE
Not Baseball's Golden Children

My battle plan for “working” Barry Bonds was two-fold. Considered the National League's best all-around player in 1996, but with the concept of a seventy-three-homer or even sixty-homer season still virtually science fiction, Bonds was a prime quarry for an interview for my Diamond Gems radio show and my weekly National League column in the Times of Northwest Indiana. Having developed at least a talking relationship with the normally media-averse Bonds, I figured I'd try to set him up for a future interview in the Giants' first season trip to Wrigley Field from April 18 to 21, 1996.

First, I'd pitch Bonds on the idea of the multimedia interview at a later date. I wouldn't rush him to do the interview during the April trip. Each day I'd informally converse with him without a notebook or tape recorder. Second, I figured I'd make a further impression on the moody slugger by giving his father Bobby, the Giants' hitting coach, a dub of vintage videotape from the 1981 season. The elder Bonds had finished his career with the Cubs in '81, so I had clips of the pair of two-homer games he had authored in his swan song. The video, recorded by a neighbor off an old top-loading VCR, probably wouldn't have otherwise been available to the Bonds family.

The tactic worked. Barry Bonds agreed to an interview during the Giants' other two-game stop in Chicago at midsummer. So on July 30,1996, Bonds and I sat down in the visitors' dugout before a game. I started rolling tape on my brand-new Marantz cassette recorder.

My first question dealt with why Bonds kept a distance between himself and the media—and, in turn, the fans who might otherwise have embraced his five-tool game. I got more than I bargained for in the superstar's quirky stream of consciousness.

-66-

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