The Associated Press
NEW YORK — As Barry Bonds nears his record 756th home run, he’s stockpiling quite a collection of souvenirs — bats, balls, helmets and spikes, pieces of baseball history perfectly suited for the Hall of Fame.
Whether he’ll donate any of them to Cooperstown, however, is in doubt.
“I’m not worried about the Hall,” the San Francisco slugger said during a recent homer drought. “I take care of me.”
No wonder those at the museum are getting concerned, especially with Bonds only 10 homers shy of breaking Hank Aaron’s career mark.
“There’s uncertainty,” Hall vice president Jeff Idelson acknowledged.
Around 35,000 artifacts are shown and stored at the shrine, and about a dozen pertain to Bonds.
There is a bat from his rookie year and cleats from him becoming the first player in the 400-homer/400-steal club. Unsolicited, he sent the bat and ball from his 2,000th hit. A batting practice bat from the 2002 World Series was the last thing Bonds provided.
“Doesn’t everybody have the right to decide to do it or not do it?” he said last week.
The most prized items, the ones that fans would really want to see, are missing.
Nothing directly from Bonds to highlight his 500th home run. Ditto for homers 714 and 715, when he tied and passed Babe Ruth. Same for anything tied to him topping Mark McGwire’s single-season total of 70.
Hall president Dale Petroskey went to visit Bonds at spring training last year, and instead walked smack into his reality show. The Giants talked to Bonds this year, and hope he’ll be in a giving mood as the big moment comes and goes.
So far, Bonds has not indicated he intends to share any Aaron-related memorabilia.
A Hall representative plans to follow Bonds once he gets within a few home runs of Aaron’s 755. Idelson has collected treasures for Cooperstown for more than a dozen years.
“Barry is very cognizant of his place in baseball history and we’ll try to work closely with him to assure him that how this milestone is represented meets his expectations and ours,” Idelson said.
“You need artifacts from the player to do that,” he said. “A cap, bat or jersey, anything can tie a visitor to a specific event.”
Aaron, who has said he will not attend the record-breaker, is well-documented at the Hall. There are 40 assorted items from his career; Ruth is remembered with more than 30.
The Hall does have the home plate from Bonds’ 714th homer and first base and the lineup card from No. 715 — those came from ballparks, not him.
Bonds is careful with personal items related to his home run pursuit. He makes certain that hats, jerseys and other things he wears are authenticated, and he keeps them in a warehouse.
He marks them, he said, “so people don’t steal my stuff.” By his count, he’s already able to take care of his next three-plus generations.