SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Barry Bonds made his seemingly inevitable return to the Giants on Tuesday, when the organization announced that it had hired baseball’s all-time home run leader as a special advisor to club president and chief executive officer Larry Baer.
Bonds is expected to discuss his role on Wednesday, when he’s due to arrive at Spring Training camp to help provide instruction for a week. A Giants news release said that Bonds also will represent the organization at various community events in San Francisco and will tour the team’s Minor League system to work with prospects.
Until now, Bonds never officially worked for the Giants since they declined to offer him a contract following the 2007 season. His one-year stint as the Miami Marlins’ hitting coach ended when the team dismissed him immediately after the season ended.
Meanwhile, casual fans and club insiders alike continued to assume that the Giants eventually would employ Bonds in some capacity. He gained widespread popularity in the Bay Area during his 15 seasons with San Francisco, winning five of his seven National League Most Valuable Player awards and being named to 12 All-Star teams during that span.
The lingering cloud of performance-enhancing drug use that formerly enveloped Bonds legally evaporated in Aug. 2016, when his conviction of obstructing justice during a government probe into steroid use was overturned by a U.S. appeals court. That further cleansed the atmosphere for a Bonds-Giants reunion.
“I think this was something everybody thought would happen as time wore on, that he’d be part of the organization again,” said former shortstop Rich Aurilia, one of Bonds’ Giants teammates for 10 years (1995-2003 and 2007). “There’s one place where he’s beloved and he’ll always be beloved. It’s San Francisco.”
Entire generations of Giants stars served the franchise in various capacities after retiring as active players, from Mel Ott, Bill Terry and Carl Hubbell to Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.
Said Aurilia, referring to Bonds, “Look at the names in the history of this organization. He’s at the top or second on that list.” Aurilia’s unspoken implication, that only Mays conceivably could supersede Bonds, was clear.
“We are delighted to welcome Barry back home to the Giants,” said Baer in the news release. “As one of the greatest players of all-time, Barry’s contributions to our organization are legendary. He joins Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and other distinguished alumni who help advise the club and we look forward to working with him again.”
Said Bonds in a statement, “I am excited to be back home with the Giants and join the team in an official capacity. San Francisco has always been my home and the Giants will always be my family. I look forward to spending time with the team, young players in the system as well as the Bay Area community.”