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Barry Bonds Hits Number 599

Barry Bonds hit his 599th homer on Tuesday night, a 432-foot three-run shot into right-center field at Pacific Bell Park.

With his 32nd homer of the season, Bonds moved within one homer of joining Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays as the only players with 600 or more homers.

Bonds' latest homer was another big drive of the sort he launched with regularity during the 2001 season, when he hit 73 homers.

With Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent on base, Bonds crushed a 1-2 pitch into one of the park's farthest reaches. Bonds stood in the batter's box to admire his hit, then slowly circled the bases. He gave a curtain call to the sellout crowd moments later.

Bonds' father, Bobby, also cheered from the stands. Bobby Bonds had surgery last month to remove a cancerous tumor from his kidney.

Bonds, whose chase for the milestone was slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for most of two weeks, also homered in his previous two games at Pittsburgh before the Giants returned home.

Bonds' 599th came against Cubs rookie Steve Smyth, whose major league debut wasn't a pleasant one. Bonds also doubled against Smyth, who allowed a two-run homer by Reggie Sanders in the first inning.

Bonds didn't put his 599th homer into the waters of McCovey Cove beyond the right-field fence, however. Less than 16 months ago, Bonds hit his 500th homer into that water. About six months after that, he hit his 73rd homer of 2001 onto the top of it.

"I just got done with one thing that was shocking, and now it's another thing and another shock," Bonds said before the game. "You never thought you'd hit 500 homers. That was the number, as far back as I can remember. This number is just overwhelming."

Bonds might not be able to believe his own feats, but others appreciate them. When Sammy Sosa saw Bonds around the batting cage on Tuesday, he greeted him with: "Hey there, Mr. 600!"

"It's something that not many people can reach," said Sosa, who entered the game with 483 career homers, including 33 this season - two more than Bonds. "I'm happy for him, because he's worked so hard to get here. Hopefully, in a couple of years, maybe I will have a chance."

Bonds' power surge makes him seem ageless at times, but there are other times when he looks every bit of 38, which he turned two weeks ago.

In the first inning of Tuesday night's game, Bonds hit a line drive into the spacious right-center field gap. It would have been a triple for most players, but running at two-thirds of his normal speed because of a torn hamstring that still hasn't healed, Bonds reached only second base.

Bonds said he has no problem batting with the injury, which will only heal fully with offseason rest, but he doesn't feel his fielding and baserunning are up to his normal standards.

For years, he was among the game's most multidimensional players; now he almost feels reduced to being a one-note power hitter.

"I was born to hit a baseball. I can hit a baseball," Bonds said. "I just can't run. I try to do things in the outfield to position myself, to make balls a little bit easier for me, but I just can't."

Bonds was in his usual form during a pregame news conference. The moody slugger said he wasn't concerned or particularly interested in the milestone; moments later, he said it was "amazing."

He expressed admiration for his godfather, Willie Mays (660 homers), and reaffirmed his frequent statement that he doesn't expect to catch home run king Hank Aaron (755). Babe Ruth (714) is the only other player with more home runs than Bonds.

Bonds also had advice for the fan who catches the ball on his 600th homer: Don't get involved in a big squabble such as the one surrounding his 73rd homer last season. Alexander Popov and Patrick Hayashi are involved in a legal dispute over ownership of the 73rd ball.

Bonds' solution: Put the ball up at auction and divide the proceeds.

"That way, they'll at least get something out of it, which is better than what they've got," Bonds said.

Bonds was thrilled to see his father in sufficient health to attend Tuesday night's game.

"He's doing a lot better," Barry Bonds said. "He's excited about it, and I'll do the best I can."

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