February 15, 2009



One of the greatest at-bats in recent times took place five years ago at Candlestick Park and took place between the Giants Barry Bonds and the Dodgers Eric Gagne. In this case the score and inning were incidentals to the moment.

We’ve all heard just about as much as we want to hear about Bonds and steroids. But Gagne has also been rumored to be one of the 104 and was cited in the Mitchell Report for receiving shipments of HGH (one of his shipments went directly to Dodgers Stadium).

So even with all of this we had one of those storied happenings that were written about by Bruce Jenkins in the SF Chronicle that was pure power meeting pure speed.

Gagne was a pitcher who registered triple digits on the radar gun but got two quick strikes on Bonds with off-speed pitches. He missed the strike out when a third missed.

At 1-2, Gagne flamed an inside fastball that shook Bonds, who said later that he had no idea how he got out of the way.

Bonds turned on the next inside heater, that read 101/MPH on the gun, and crushed it foul into McCovey Cove. It went so far that the Cove’s “Splash-Cam” couldn’t pick it up.

Gagne threw yet another 101-er that Bonds hit into the right-center seats. It (the AB) was described by Jenkins as “pure country hardball.”

I guess it’s a little bit like ‘The Natural’ or ‘Field of Dreams,’ two baseball films that moved me greatly. I always felt a curious distance from someone who scoffed at such whimsical fantasy. To be sure, nobody’s right or wrong. If the Gagne-Bonds thing is a joke to you now, you’re hardly alone. I just know I feel as invigorated by the coming season as any in the past. They’re all in a tie for first. If my head’s in the sand, let the tide roll in.”

The competition fires still burn within Dennis “Oil-Can” Boyd. He recently said that he wants to give it another go. Boyd, 49, said he’d like to carry-on the legacy of Satchel Page and pitch into his 60’s. After last pitching in ’87, when he had shoulder surgery, he’s feeling great. He SAID his speed is in the low 90’s (although it hasn’t been clocked) and his 12-6 curve and change have returned. Any team signing him would have nothing to lose and it could be said that his arm is only 29 after taking off the last 20 years. Boyd said: “Give me 15 minutes and I’ll show I can still pitch. That’s all I want.”



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