Memory can be a funny thing. To some, Barry Bonds will be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. But that number is likely to be far smaller than his career numbers or on field accomplishments would dictate.
The accomplishments on the field and Bonds' less than stellar relationship with the public at large is ultimately an issue that will likely be debated by the baseball community and Hall of Fame voters for quite some time. And like any good blogger, I'll stick that conversation in my back pocket and save it for a day of writer's block.
Instead, I'd rather look back at a different Barry Bonds. One who couldn't be farther removed from a HoF conversation, let alone steroid debate.
Heading into the late 80's, Bonds gave Pirates fans something to look forward to after a largely lost decade. As his relationship with the city soured in the early 90's, Bonds became a villain to many Pittsburgh sports fans. And because of this, long before home run records or hat sizes became the topic of conversation, Bonds, undoubtedly one of the game's most dominant players, was written out of the collective sporting memory of most Pirate fans.
But these shots, from '88 Fleer and '89 Topps respectively, are unaware of all that is to come. It's simply about a team looking to get back on track, and a player looking to step out of his father's shadow.
I rarely see Bonds cards at card shows anymore. Maybe dealers don't even bother throwing them in their boxes, waiting for the day collectors again take interest in Barry, or assuming nobody wants them. But Bonds is an unavoidable piece of baseball and Pirates history, good, bad, and otherwise. A true and honest appreciation of that history means at least temporarily setting aside the latter two to recognize how important that "good" is.