Former K-Triber Serves Up 756

San Francisco - Mike Bacsik walked behind the mound and was consoled by teammates when Barry Bonds rounded the bases after hitting his record 756th home run.

The Washington Nationals pitcher then retreated to the dugout while Bonds was feted as baseball's Home Run King. Whether he was on the field or not during the celebration, Bacsik will always be linked with Bonds for allowing the record-breaking home run.

It's a distinction Bacsik knew was a real possibility before he took the mound Tuesday night.

"If it does happen, it's not a horrible thing for Barry Bonds to hit a home run off you," said Bacsik, the 445th pitcher to allow a home run to Bonds. "Me and Al Downing can do card shows together and sign famous autographs for being the guy."

Downing gave up Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run 33 years ago. Downing won 123 games and pitched in three World Series in a 17-year career, but most people only know him for the one pitch he threw to Aaron on April 8, 1974.

Bacsik is a journeyman who spent most of his 12-year pro career in the minors, including a pair of stints with the Kinston Indians. He went 10-9 with the K-Tribe in 1998 and returned for a brief stop in 2000 before eventually signing with the Nationals last season.

He will always be remembered for the 3-2 pitch he threw Bonds in the fifth inning. Bonds drove it to right-center field, the deepest part of the ballpark for the record-breaker.

Like Bonds, Bacsik is the son of a major leaguer. He and his father, also named Mike, enjoy a truly remarkable connection. While Clyde and Jaret Wright and Pedro Borbon Sr. and Jr. are among the father-son pitching tandem to face the two sluggers, only the Bacsiks got the chance when both had 755 career home runs.

Definitely like father, like son.

"That is truly amazing," the father said in a telephone interview before the game. "At the time I just knew it was the great Hank Aaron. I wasn't thinking about the fact he had 755 home runs."

While the father avoided giving up No. 756, the son wasn't as lucky.

The elder Bacsik watched the game at his home in Arlington, Texas, predicting he'd be so nervous that he would vacuum the house "five or six times" during the game.

A few hours before his son took the mound, Bacsik recalled his meeting with a Home Run King. On Aug. 23, 1976, he entered the game for Texas in relief of Jim Umbarger in the fourth inning and faced Aaron twice. He retired him on a flyout the first time and then allowed an infield single in Aaron's second at-bat.

"I had a lot of respect for him. He was a great baseball player," Bacsik said. "But at the time, his bat had slowed down a bit. He wasn't as quick as he used to be. But he was a super smart hitter. If you made a mistake, he could make you pay. I was more of sinker, slider, hard-throwing guy. I didn't want to throw him anything soft because he could hook a ball out."

Bacsik spent five years in the majors, going 8-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 73 games. He also faced Bonds' father, Bobby, allowing an RBI single in two at-bats against him in 1979.


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