Bonds and Listach did not overlap during their stay with the Sun Devils. Bonds, who is closing in on one of baseball’s most hallowed home run records, was in Tempe from 1983 to 1985. Listach, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros and was the American League Rookie of the Year as an infielder in 1992, was at ASU in 1988.
But the two have crossed paths at alumni games and are in a long line of those that played at Arizona State who went on to play in the big leagues.
The list includes Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Bob Horner and Oddibe McDowell just to name a few.
“He used to come and work out every once in a while,” Listach remembers of Bonds. “He was outgoing. He was the center of attention obviously. A big-time media horde wanted to talk to him.”
Listach recalls a talented player in Bonds. He said he doesn’t want to comment on the controversy that enshrouds Bonds now over alleged steroid use. Instead, he remembers a fellow ASU player who loved the game.
“Barry is one of the most talented players in the game,” Listach said. “It was fun to be around him.”
Listach also said that McDowell, who played for ASU from 1983 to 1984 and debuted with the Texas Rangers in 1985, drew a lot of media attention.
“Oddibe was a big fan favorite,” said Listach, now in his second season managing in the Cubs’ farm system. “You’ve got Rick Monday, Reggie Jackson, a lot of big name guys. Oddibe was a big name guy because of how small he was and all the home runs he hit.”
Entering play Wednesday, Bonds had 749 career home runs. The record of 755 is held by former Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron, who retired in 1976. Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth’s mark of 714 in 1974.
The record has stood for more than three decades, but Bonds is six away from tying it and topping the record book with a new name.
“It’s a record that you don’t think is going to fall,” Listach said. “You look at a hitting streak like Joe DiMaggio (56 straight games). You think this is one that doesn’t have a chance to be attainable. I think Pete Rose’s all-time hits record (4,256) is unattainable. Guys don’t play 20, 25 years any more.
“But this is a record that is going to fall. It could happen any day now. He could hit three a day with his ability and his talent. It’s going to be an historic day,” said Listach.
Listach said he is monitoring the record and will note the achievement when it does occur. Does that mean he will be rooting for Bonds?
“I’ll be happy for him,” Listach said. “It takes a lot of talent to hit that many home runs. He’s worked hard. He’s kept his body in great shape. I wish him the best. He’s the best hitter in the game. At 42 years old, he’s still the best hitter in the game.”
And unlike DiMaggio’s or Rose’s records, Listach foresees a day when Bonds’ mark is topped.
The most likely player to do so is New York’s Alex Rodriguez, who has 492 home runs and will be 32 years old later this summer. Bonds turns 43 in July.
“A-Rod. Definitely. No doubt about it,” Listach said. “He’s another guy who stays in tremendous shape, and he’s a great athlete on top of that.”