Baseball legend Willie Mays took center stage at an AT&T Park ceremony in San Francisco honoring home run hitter Barry Bonds on Saturday and called for Bonds’ induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mays, 87, insisted on leaving his seat and stand at the podium to deliver his message to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which votes every year on new inductees, MLB.com reported.
“On behalf of all the people in San Francisco and all over the country, vote this guy in! It’s very, very important to me,” Mays said, endorsing his godson for enshrinement among baseball’s greatest players.
Mays, who played 21 seasons for the Giants franchise and belted 660 home runs for the team, spoke at a ceremony to retire Bonds’ jersey number 25.
Bonds is major league baseball’s all-time slugger with 762 home runs. The 54-year-old hitter was the national league’s most valuable player seven times and a 14-time all-star selection. Yet, he may never be named among the legends of his sport.
Bonds has a huge blemish on his 22 years in the major leagues that’s preventing him from baseball immortality: steroids. Bonds admitted to using human growth hormones during his career, but he denied knowledge of using them, blaming his personal trainer for misleading him.
The former slugger has four more chances to gain election into the Hall of Fame. His vote total has increased each year since his second appearance on the ballot, MLB.com reported. However, with 56.4 percent of the votes on the most recent ballot, Bonds is not close to the 75 percent needed.
Despite the controversy surrounding his career, Giants baseball fans gave him a rousing ovation at his jersey retirement ceremony.