SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds so badly wanted to play one final season.
On the 10th anniversary of breaking baseball’s all-time home run mark, Bonds told The Associated Press on Monday night that believes he would have hit 800 homers or come very close.
Bonds said it “stung” to walk away from a decorated 22-year career with little notice immediately after a record-setting 2007 season with the San Francisco Giants in which he topped Hank Aaron’s mark.
Bonds said there were never discussions about him playing for the Giants in 2008. He also said he didn’t push for it because, “I was just told I’m not coming back and that was it.”
Bonds, 53, now works for the Giants. He was at AT&T Park on Monday night, the same place he hit No. 756 to pass Aaron.
Bonds finished with 762 home runs. The seven-time NL MVP finished his career under the cloud of steroids allegations.
“Yeah, it should have only been nine (years ago). I should have played one more year, I should have had the chance to,” Bonds said, standing behind the batting cage.
“It’s all right, though. Those 22 were still good. I wish I could have gotten to retire better, or just walk away better, whatever it was, however you want to call it,” he said.
Bonds waved from the broadcast booth when he was shown on the big board before the top of the third inning, when highlights of his record-setting homer were played.
“I was what (38) away from 800? I’d have been real close. I would have never hit under 20-something, no matter what,” Bonds said.
Hours earlier, Bonds spent time chatting up his 2007 manager, current San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy, and giving some guidance to Pablo Sandoval and Jarrett Parker between their turns taking batting practice.
Bonds said he hadn’t even thought about this being 10 years since his milestone home run until hearing from the team with an invite to the ballpark Monday, when the Giants hosted the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
“I didn’t know it was 10 years,” he said. “I didn’t even know I was out of baseball 10 years. It feels like just yesterday,” he said.
As the Giants hitters got loose, Bonds pondered what might have been with a season more of chances.
“It always will eat at you in a way, always, because it just wasn’t right the way it was done. It is what it is. Just to say goodbye like that after all, that’s not cool,” he said.
“But I’ve learned to overcome it and accept it and move on. If I didn’t overcome it I wouldn’t be back here. There’s no reason to subject myself to that kind of stuff. If it wasn’t for me to just overcome it then just say, I played my 22 years, I had a great career, I love my city, the city loves me. That means more to me than anything. You’ve got to weigh it all. Great community, great city, great fans here, family I say mostly, that’s what they are.”
In July 2015, Bonds said he had a huge “weight lifted” when federal prosecutors dropped what was left of their criminal case against him after a nearly decade-long steroids prosecution.