For the record, Barry Bonds is without a doubt the greatest baseball player I have seen play in my life.
Now, I’m not talking about the Bonds of the past few years with the powerful chest and the swollen head that resembles the Kool-Aid guy. While his homeruns have indeed been both prolific and awe-inspiring, my lasting memories of Bonds are from the 1993 season when he first came to the San Francisco Giants and dominated opponents with his legs, defense, bat and ego. He talked the talk, and he walked the walk — and seemingly always came up with the hit that won the game for the hometown Giants.
I probably watched Bonds play 140 games that season, and was convinced that I’d never seen anybody quite like him. He was Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods ... he was a stud.
To many in the Bay area at that time, Bonds was a hero. He transformed a perennial loser into an instant contender, and he did it with flash and a flair for the dramatic. See, Bonds could be 0-3 with two strikeouts, but you just knew he’d hit a three-run shot in the 8th inning to give the Giants a lead, and then make a spinning throw to second base in the 9th inning to save the day and end the game.
Then he’d quickly push back adoring fans in the parking lot on his way to his sports car and squeal off into the night without ever acknowledging their presence.
I don’t care for Bonds. I stand by my earlier statement that he’s the best I’ve ever seen, but I still grade him out as a jerk — selfish, whiny, paranoid and pompous. But, for some, he’s their hero.
I’ve always told people that I have two heroes in my life — my mom and my dad. I know what they were up against, and I know of the stresses and real-life situations they had to deal with. They amaze me with how they were able to use a collectively firm hand in raising children, while all along keeping our household full of love.
They are heroes.
However, recently I’ve opened my eyes to accepting that there are other heroes out there. Real ones, who do more than hitting a baseball or singing a song or leading a bunch of nutjobs into protesting at the funeral of a Seaford Marine who died in combat, while his family mourned ...
But I digress.
There are real-life heroes out there that should be seen as such. Besides those in law enforcement and fire and emergency rescue, there are teachers who willingly improve the lives of youth, volunteers who contribute time and energy to help out those in need and blindingly-handsome weekly newspaper editors who ... yeah, never mind.
Not to be left out, in my humble opinion, are the men and women serving our nation right now in the armed forces. They contribute to society by doing as they are told, by offering all they have in sacrifice so the rest of us do not and by keeping an eye on the scary people of this world so the rest of us can sleep in our comfortable beds.
And, as it would seem, many of them continue to be heroes even when they are not in uniform.
Sgt. Edward Boniberger, who had served in Iraq, and his girlfriend, Marnie Hall, found a winning lottery ticket outside a convenience store in New York on Monday, according to the Associated Press. The pair tried to find the woman who had signed it, but were unable to, so they turned it over to the police. When the police found the woman, she offered Boniberger a reward, which he turned down — suggesting to the woman that she could make a donation to charity instead.
“There’s people out there who need it a lot more than I do,” he said.
Later that same night, in Atlanta, Marine Thomas Autry (who was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1992, but as any Marine will tell you, there are no former Marines — just Marines) was walking home from work when he was approached by four individuals, one of whom was armed with a shotgun, while another had a pistol, according to the Associated Press.
Autry attempted to flee, but was eventually corned by the group, according to reports. He then pulled out a pocketknife and killed one of his attackers, while wounding another.
The attackers are facing robbery and assault charges and are suspected in other robberies, according to police, meaning Autry’s actions will probably save the life of another.
Pretty heroic stuff, huh? And he didn’t even cuss out an autograph-seeker, Barry.