Godfather Mays Says He’s Up For Road Trip With Barry

By Henry Schulman
Updated: March 2, 2007

SCOTTSDALE, Az. — Commissioner Bud Selig and Henry Aaron might keep their distance as Barry Bonds approaches his 755th home run, but another baseball biggie will consider joining Bonds’ traveling party.

Willie Mays said Monday that if asked he might go on the road with the Giants to lend his godson moral support as he approaches Aaron’s all-time home run record.

“I don’t know if I’ll be involved,” Mays said as he began his annual visit to camp, “but if the club feels they want me to go on the road and Barry needs some kind of companionship, I will. He might start feeling a little pressure when he starts getting close to that number.”

Indeed, Bonds usually hits a lull before he hits a milestone. Mays had to follow Bonds for more than a week at the start of the 2004 season before Bonds hit the two homers he needed to hit reach 660 and catch Mays for third-most all-time.

Asked if he thought Bonds will hit 22 homers and pass Aaron in 2007, Mays thought for a moment and said, “Boy, it looks like from what I saw today, it looks like he could. I don’t see why not. They’re going to pitch to him more because of his age. Then he’ll get enough pitches to do what he has to do.”

The Giants are expected to honor Mays at this year’s All-Star Game in San Francisco. Managing general partner Peter Magowan said he expects Bonds to be included in the All-Star events even if he is left off the National League squad, although Magowan expressed hope that Bonds would be selected.

“That would be good for Barry,” Mays said. “If this is his last year, it’s something else for him to do, to be part of the All-Star Game. But it would mean more to him being picked than just being in the festivities.”

Mays played in 24 All-Star Games, including the famous wind-blown contest at Candlestick Park in 1961, which the NL won 5-4 in 10 innings. Mays tied the game in the 10th with a double that drove in Aaron, then scored the winning run on a Roberto Clemente single.