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Bonds shatters career home run record

Washington - Barry Bonds, the San Francisco Giant outfielder dogged by allegations of steroid use, broke baseball's career home run record Tuesday night by belting number 756 in front an enthusiastic home crowd in the city by the bay.

Bonds shatters career home run record

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds connects for his 756th career home run off a pitch by Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik as Nationals catcher Brian Schneider looks on during the fifth inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, USA, T

The thousands of fans in the stands cheered wildly as Bonds sent a 3-2 pitch into the centre-right outfield seats, passing Hall of Famer Hank Aaron's mark of 755 that stood for more than 30 years.

 After the swing, the left-handed Bonds dropped his bat and threw his arms in the air as he watched the ball sail out of the park. His 17-year-old son Vladimir was first to greet him at the plate as Bonds pointed to the heavens in thanks and fireworks were set off in San Francisco's AT&T Park.

 Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik had the dubious honour of giving up the big hit, forever adding his name to baseball history and sports trivia.

 The game was stopped to mark the event and a video tribute by Aaron - now the second-most prolific home-run hitter - was played on a video board in the ballpark.

 Bonds himself was in tears as he thanked fans, team-mates and most of all his late father Bobby Bonds - also a baseball player - for their support over the years.

 "I got to thank all of you, all the fans here in San Francisco. It's been fantastic," Bonds said. "To my dad ... thank you for everything."

   The Giants were careful about ensuring that the slugger surpassed the milestone in front of a crowd at home. After he tied the record in San Diego on Saturday, he sat out of Sunday's game in the same city.

 Breaking the record outside the friendly confines of San Francisco would have risked subjecting the 43-year-old Bonds to thunderous boos as he celebrated his ownership of the most coveted record in American sports.

 In most cities Bonds has played in this season, fans have consistently booed or harassed him because of allegations he used steroids to beef up his already considerable home run hitting prowess. Although the reaction in San Diego was mixed, some fans held up asterisks to note that Bonds' achievement should be questioned when it's enshrined in the record books.

 Playing in recent years under a growing cloud of doping suspicions, Bonds' chase of the beloved Aaron's mark has focussed national attention on the sport's failure to take effective measures against performance-enhancing substances.

 Testing for steroids only began before the 2005 season, and a system to test for the long-rumoured use of illegal stimulants is even more recent.

 Bonds was already a certain future Hall of Famer with one of the greatest-ever combinations of speed, hitting prowess and defensive ability, when in the late 1990s he began a strength-training programme that quickly transformed him into a hulking power hitter.

 He soon set the single-season mark for home runs with 73 in 2001, amid an astonishing late-career surge in offensive production.

 A criminal investigation into the BALCO doping laboratory snared advisors close to Bonds and other star athletes, and Bonds was forced to give testimony to a closed grand jury.

 According to leaks in 2004 from that grand jury probe published by the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds denied knowingly doping but claimed to have unwittingly used substances given by his personal trainer that may have actually contained steroids.

 In public, Bonds has steadfastly denied doping and frequently points out that he has never tested positive for any banned substance.

 Known for a surly demeanour with fans and sports reporters, Bonds was never a popular figure outside of San Francisco, having grown up in the Bay Area and being credited for keeping the team from moving to Florida.

 Bonds has played 15 of his 22 season for the Giants.

 The steroid scandal has plagued Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who was not on hand at Tuesday's game after weeks of debate within the sport over whether he should attend Giants games to be present for the record-setting moment.

 Selig's effort to distance himself from Bonds has brought charges of hypocrisy from critics who say he turned a blind eye to rampant steroid use in the late 1990s and early 2000, hoping a climb in home-run totals would sell more tickets and generate more television revenue.//dpa

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