Barry Bonds once received the ultimate sign of respect as a hitter.
Bonds is arguably the greatest hitter of all time and had an OPS of at least .999 in every season from 1992-2007. That means Bonds on average collected at least one base for every plate appearance. So when he came up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and his team down two in a 1998 game, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter decided to issue him a free pass. Yes, Showalter decided giving a guaranteed run to the Giants was better than letting Bonds try to tie the game or win it.
During an interview with Dominic Smith, Bonds shared that he was “shocked” at the Diamondbacks’ actions.
“I was shocked at first! Probably if I go back in the film and look at it, I looked in the dugout and was like ‘what the heck is going on here?’ First time, never seen it happen before. I was feeling really good at the time, feeling pretty locked in at the time,” Bonds told Smith.
Showalter’s decision paid off. Even though the Bonds walk made it 8-7, Brett Mayne lined out next to end the game.
Ten years later, history repeated as then-Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon intentionally walked Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a game. Tampa Bay won that game too.