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San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds is chasing Hank Aaron's home run record of 755. Bonds has 751. Decatur resident and former Bonds teammate Gary Redus still considers the slugger 'a good friend.'
AP photo by Jeff Chiu
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds is chasing Hank Aaron's home run record of 755. Bonds has 751. Decatur resident and former Bonds teammate Gary Redus still considers the slugger "a good friend."

Redus says Bonds shows confidence

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

Former Major League outfielder Gary Redus has an endearing way of referring to his relationship with San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds.

"He is a good friend, but he could be (obnoxious)," Redus said from his home in Decatur. "That is putting it simple."

Redus, a former player at Calhoun and Athens State, had an interesting perspective on the enigma of Bonds. The two played together with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1988-1992. Bonds is a constant in the news these days.

He’s under a cloud of investigation for possible steroid use and he’s four homers behind Hank Aaron’s 755 total.

In Pittsburgh, Redus saw a side of Bonds that most people either didn’t see or didn’t want to see.

He remembers the guy who could sleep until just a few minutes before a game, then go out in the field, making a diving catch, then hit a home run.

Redus also jokingly tells a story about how after Bonds won his first most valuable player award in 1990 he bought a leather outfit that said on one sleeve, “Bonds” and “MVP” on the other.

Bonds turned to the team and asked, “Isn’t this nice?” to which Redus responded, “It’s real nice. It’s 95 degrees outside.”

According to Redus, Bonds had an attitude. Not in a bad way, but he had a philosophy that you needed to be confident in order to be a great player.

It is this confidence that sometimes gets portrayed as cockiness outside of a major league locker room.

For example, Bonds used to make fun of Redus for getting out as a pinch-hitter.

Redus said Bonds thought that pinch-hitting was easy. One game Bonds didn’t play and was called on to pinch-hit. He struck out on three pitches, Redus said.

“We kidded him about it all the time,” Redus said.

Now a minor-league consultant with the Pirates, Redus says he considers Bonds a “good friend.” The two have not spoken in about five years, but Redus follows Bonds as marches toward Aaron’s homer mark.

Bonds hasn’t been able to shake the steroids image. Things got so bad once, that at a game in San Diego during the 2006 season, a fan threw a syringe on the field.

Redus sees the swirling firestorm and shrugs it off. His friend is still the same person he used to be.

“I hate the fact that everybody is picking on him,” Redus said. “They are saying that Barry Bonds did steroids, and everything he has done doesn’t mean anything. It has never been proved. I don’t know if Barry took steroids. I could care less. All I know is that he went to the plate and hit the ball.”

Gary Redus

Date of birth: Nov. 1, 1956, in Athens.

College: Calhoun College/Athens State

Drafted: 15th round of the 1978 amateur draft by Cincinnati.

Position: Outfield and first base.

Career highlight: Finished third in the National League with 52 stolen bases in 1987.

Major League teams: Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh and Texas.

Retired in strike-shortened 1994 season after 12 years.

Former baseball coach at Calhoun College. Currently an instructor with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

- Josh Cooper

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