Bonds becomes 17th major leaguer to reach 500 career homers

Wednesday, April 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds became the 17th major leaguer ever to reach 500 career home runs, pounding a drive into the bay as Pacific Bell Park sparkled with flashbulbs.

Bonds, 36, a nine-time All-Star, hit his milestone home run Tuesday night only one day after getting his 499th. He watched the ball for a moment, then jumped for joy before rounding the bases and pouncing on home plate with both feet.

At the plate Bonds embraced Rich Aurilia, who tripled to start the inning, and his father, former major leaguer Bobby Bonds. His wife Liz ran to his arms.

Afterward, the left-field fence opened up and former Giants Willie Mays and Willie McCovey _ also members of the 500 club _ were whisked by a golf cart to a ceremony at home plate.

``First of all, I'd like to thank my parents for having me,'' a breathless Bonds told the crowd. ``I want to thank Willie Mays for being here and Willie McCovey. Most of all, thanks to all of you, I love you and I'm proud to be in a San Francisco Giants uniform.''

Bonds is the first player to reach 500 homers since Mark McGwire did it in 1999. His two-run, eighth-inning drive also won the game for the Giants, giving them their 3-2 margin of victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

``Barry couldn't have a better script than tonight,'' Mays said.