Barry Bonds jacks his 714th home run in 2006, tying him with Babe Ruth for No. 2 on the all-time MLB list Sara Wolfram/Getty Images

May 20 in sports history: No universal love for Bonds tying Babe

Here's a look back at notable sports news on May 20 through the years:


2006: Seventy-one years after Babe Ruth hit his final big league homer, Barry Bonds tied the Bambino for second on the all-time MLB home run list in the Giants' 4-2 win in Oakland. The 41-year-old's 714th homer ended a nine-game homerless streak.

Bonds received a standing ovation, but many had mixed feelings about the Giants outfielder, the subject of steroid speculation for years. When the Mets posted a message on their scoreboard after he tied Ruth, fans booed.

"I still remember Barry Bonds as a great player, regardless of steroids or what," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "How many home runs would he have hit without whatever people are saying is going on? I don't know. I know one thing: That, player-wise, he's pretty good."

"There is obviously a black cloud over this historic home run," said David Kohler, president of SCP Auctions in Laguna Hills, California, which specialized in sports memorabilia. "People are not scrambling after Barry Bonds jerseys and balls. Normally, with a historic event like this, we would see a lot more demand."

The 19-year-old who caught Bonds' blast was scathing.  "I hate that guy," he told reporters. 

2019: It seems like a billion years ago, but on this date last year — dang, last year! — the Warriors swept the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals to advance to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season. Golden State, playing without injured star Kevin Durant, joined the Celtics as the only team in NBA history to make the Finals in five consecutive seasons or more. (Boston holds the all-time record for consecutive Finals berths with 10, from 1957-67.)

MVP! MVP! MVP! MVP!

1996: On his way to another NBA title, Bulls superstar Michael Jordan — you may have heard of him — earned 96.5 percent of first-place votes (109 of 113) from the media to win his fourth league MVP. He averaged 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.20 steals. 

"If we ever needed confirmation, we have it now. There has never been an American team sports athlete quite like Michael Jordan," wrote Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe. "This man walked away from the sport, stayed away a year and three-quarters and one year later wins the highest individual award his sport can bestow — at age 33. Don’t bother to look it up. It is unprecedented."

Wrote New York Daily News columnist Mark Kriegel:

"In truth, Jordan is not the Michelangelo of basketball, but of competition. He's possessed of the instinct.  His urge to win is so perfect and pure and pathological as to make Dennis Rodman seem sane. Michael Jordan going for another championship is not unlike Ahab making a run at the whale. The difference is Jordan wins. Again and again."

Jordan won his second MVP on this date in 1991.

A MONSTER BLAST

1978: In the Pirates' 6-0 win over the Expos at Olympic Stadium, Willie Stargell, one of the great home run hitters of the 1970s, smashed a 535-foot homer off Wayne Twitchell.

 "How can anyone hit a ball that far?" Pirates manager Chuck Tanner asked in the Pittsburgh Press about the second Stargell homer of the game. The blast landed in the second tier in the right-field upper deck, where no one was sitting. Ushers couldn't find the ball.

BASEBALL MILESTONES

1919: Before he became known as the "Sultan of Swat" for the Yankees, Babe Ruth was an outstanding pitcher for the Red Sox. On this date, the Bambino showed his stuff on the mound and at the plate.

In his 6-4, complete-game win over the St. Louis Browns, Ruth gave up nine hits and jacked a waist-high fastball over the right-field fence for the first grand slam of his career.

"A titanic smash," the Boston Globe called the homer by the "burly Bostonian."

"Bases Full! 'Babe Ruth' Up! Presto! Four Men Score! Ball Still At Large!" read the banner headline on the Hartford Courant sports section.

1984: Sixty-five years later, another Boston pitcher — right-hander Roger Clemens — earned his first career win. The 5-4 victory in Minneapolis confirmed his manager's first impression of the former University of Texas star. 

"There's no question about it," Ralph Houk told the Boston Globe. "He's going to be a good one." Clemens finished his career in 2007 with 354 wins — 192 for the Red Sox.

1999: Robin Ventura had a knack for coming through with the bases loaded. In a doubleheader sweep of the Brewers, the Mets third baseman blasted a grand slam in each game — the first major leaguer to do so in a twin bill. 

"It's a good day to have a doubleheader," he told the New York Daily News afterward. 

For his career with the bases full, Ventura was hitting .356 with 134 RBIs in 118 at-bats and 12 grand slams. Four years earlier, Ventura smashed two grand slams in a game with the White Sox. 

ALL TIED UP

1990: In the ninth race at Arlington (Illinois) International Racecourse, winners All Worked Up, Marshua’s Affair and Survival were timed in 1:24 4-5 over seven furlongs — the 18th triple-dead heat in modern thoroughbred history.   

THESE STREAKS ARE OVER

1990: 16-year-old Monica Seles beat Steffi Graf’, 6-4, 6-3, in the German Open championship, ending her 66-match winning streak — the second longest in tennis' modern era. Martina Navratilova won 74 straight matches in 1984.

"I was so far away from playing my best tennis, it was difficult to get into it," Graf said. "If I play like that, I can't expect to win."

2007: At the Hamburg Masters, Roger Federer ended Rafael Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 win — the first clay-court title in two years for the world's top-ranked player.

“It was an incredible performance from my side,” Federer told reporters. “I had a great day; it’s nice to be playing well again. His streak was phenomenal — 81 matches in a row on clay is fantastic.” 

Said Nadal, who was ranked No. 2 in the world: "If I have to lose to anyone, then he is the man. I am not sad to lose to the best in the world."

Happy birthday ...

  • Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who was the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year. He is co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing Team. (49)
  • Jayson Werth, shaggy-haired outfielder who won a World Series with the Phillies and is the grandson of former major leaguer Dick “Ducky” Schofield. (41)
  • New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick Marshon Lattimore. The two-time Pro-Bowl corner starred at Ohio State and was named the 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. (24)
  • Enes Kanter, picked third overall by the Jazz in the 2011 NBA Draft. He now plays for the Celtics. (28)
  • Former major league pitcher Todd Stottlemyre, who won two World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is the son of the late MLB All-Star pitcher Mel Stottlemyre. (55)
  • Three-time All-Star pitcher David Wells. The lefty threw a perfect game for the Yankees, won two World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays and retired with 239 wins. (57)

R.I.P.

2018: Billy Cannon, 1959 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick in the 1960 NFL Draft. Cannon led LSU to a national championship in 1958 and made headlines with an infamous 89-yard punt return TD against Mississippi. As a pro he won three AFL championships, with the Oilers and Raiders. He was 80.

2018: Professional golfer Carol Mann, two-time major winner and former president of the LPGA. Standing 6-foot-3, Mann has the 12th-most wins on the LPGA Tour, at 38. She died at age 77.


May 19: No stopping Secretariat


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