Todd Helton

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Posted by kaori 03/24/2009 @ 01:07

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Play by play - USA Today
None on with two outs and Todd Helton due up. Single: Todd Helton singled to center. Runner on first with two outs and Brad Hawpe due up. Out: Brad Hawpe flied out to left to end the inning. Out: Curtis Granderson grounded out second to first....
D-Train derailed by late rally in finale - DetroitTigers.com
All he could do in defeat is tip his cap to Todd Helton. The offense behind him -- or lack of it -- left others scratching their heads. "We've got a good ballclub, but we've got to get our offense going," manager Jim Leyland said after Helton's second...
Tigers' Dontrelle Willis pitches well again in defeat - MLive.com
After a groundout, Todd Helton hit a grounder up the middle to score Stewart. Matt Murton did hit a ball hard, though, on a double to right field that scored Helton and knocked Willis out of the game. Leyland was pleased with how his left-hander...
VENUE: Coors Field - CBSSports.com
Todd Helton drove in two runs in a 3-1 victory Sunday. "We're looking for traction right now, and this is the type of win that can help," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've had some tough sledding lately, but we've got an alpha dog doing the...
Todd Helton's bid for 2000 hits put in limbo by official scorer - Yahoo! Sports
Helton's entry to the 255-member club is still in limbo, though, because his only offering of the night — a ninth-inning shot up the middle off Eric O'Flaherty(notes) — was ruled an error on Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar(notes), making Helton's...
Rox throw clubhouse party for Helton - MLB.com
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com ATLANTA -- Todd Helton took the advice of his 6-year-old daughter and let loose some smiles after Tuesday night's game. It was impossible not to express some joy. Helton knocked his 2000th career hit, all of which have come...
Recap: Atlanta vs. Colorado - MiamiHerald.com
Colorado first baseman Todd Helton went 1-for-3, recording his 2000th career hit in the third inning, a clean single to left-center field. Before Tuesday's game, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle met with official scorer Jack Wilkinson trying to overturn an...
Does Lane Kiffin Understand SEC football? "He's About To ... - SportingNews.com
Like Todd Helton, who insists you're about to learn what the SEC is all about: Helton has reason to beef with Kiffin: he's a diehard Vol, a former starting QB who lost this starting job to Peyton Manning, and a Fulmer loyalist....
Instant replay: Rockies 4, Tigers 3 - Detroit Free Press
By JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • May 24, 2009 WHAT HAPPENED: Todd Helton opened the sixth inning with a homer on Armando Galarraga's 3-0 pitch to break a 3-3 tie. The Tigers got one hit after that, a two-out double in the seventh by Gerald...
Play by play - USA Today
Runner on first with one out and Todd Helton due up. Stolen-base: Troy Tulowitzki stole second. Runner on second with one out and Todd Helton at the plate. Out: Todd Helton flied out to left. Runner on second with two outs and Garrett Atkins due up....

Todd Helton

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Todd Lynn Helton (born August 20, 1973 in Knoxville, Tennessee) is the starting first baseman for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball.

Helton is a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger, 4-time National League Player of the Month and 3-time Gold Glove winner. As of June 30, 2008, Helton has the third-highest career batting average of all active players at .328 (Albert Pujols #1 at .334 and Ichiro Suzuki #2 at .331), placing him fourth behind former San Diego Padres right fielder Tony Gwynn (.338), Pujols and Suzuki, among all players whose careers began after World War II.

As of June 30, 2008, among all active players, Helton is third in batting average (.328), first in on-base percentage (.428), fifth in slugging percentage (.574), fifth in intentional walks (170) and eighth in doubles (471).

In addition, Helton holds Colorado Rockies club records for hits (1,956), home runs (310), doubles (471), walks (1,038), runs scored (1,141), RBI (1,116), on-base percentage (.428), games played (1,657), total bases (3,419) and other categories.

Helton attended Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee and was a letterman in football and baseball. In football, he posted 2,772 total yards as quarterback.

In baseball, as a senior, Helton posted a .655 batting average and 12 home runs and was named the Regional Player of the Year. Baseball America also bestowed him with All-American honors for his senior season.

Helton received a scholarship from the University of Tennessee to play both football and baseball. He was named a Gatorade Player of the Year for football and baseball at Tennessee. As a freshman and sophomore, he backed up Heath Shuler at quarterback. In his junior season, he was the back-up to Jerry Colquitt and ahead of Peyton Manning. After an injury to Colquitt, Helton got the starting spot only to face injury himself and be replaced by Manning. He did, however, win the Dick Howser Trophy as National Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year following his junior baseball season.

Helton was drafted in the first round, eighth overall, in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He was signed on July 1, 1995. Helton spent the next couple of years playing for the class-A Asheville Tourists, AA New Haven Ravens and AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox before getting a crack at the major leagues. He made his major-league debut on August 2, 1997, in a 6-5 road loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Helton started in left field and flied out in his first at-bat. He recorded his first hit, a single, in his second at-bat off Francisco Cordova. Helton also hit his first home run, a solo shot, that day off Marc Wilkins.

During the 1997 season, Helton hit .280/.337/.484 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage), with five home runs, in 35 games played. When Rockies first baseman Andrés Galarraga went to the Atlanta Braves in 1998, Helton became the full-time starter at first base for Colorado during the 1998 season. The Rockies named Helton their club representative in 1998, the first time the team ever gave a rookie that role. He hit .315/.380/.530, with 25 home runs and 97 RBI, in 152 games played. Helton led all major-league rookies in average (.315), homers (25), RBI (97), multi-hit games (49), total bases (281), slugging percentage (.530) and extra base hits (63). He also led all National League rookies in runs (78), hits (167) and on-base percentage (.380). At the time, only Mike Piazza (35), David Justice (28) and Darryl Strawberry (26) had hit more homers as an NL rookie since 1972, and only Piazza had more RBI (112). Helton finished second to Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame named Helton its 1998 Professional Athlete of the Year.

In 1999, Helton had a .320 batting average, .395 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage. He also hit 35 home runs and 113 RBI, while drawing 68 walks. On June 19, 1999, in a 10-2 Rockies home win over the Florida Marlins, Helton hit for the cycle. He fell short of hitting a second cycle on four different occasions during the 1999 season, which would have made him only the second player since 1900 (Babe Herman was the first to do so in 1931) to hit two cycles in one season.

Helton enjoyed arguably his best season in 2000, leading the major leagues in batting average (.372), RBI (147), doubles (59), total bases (405), extra base hits (103), slugging percentage (.698) and OPS (1.162). He led the National League in hits (216) and on-base percentage (.463). Helton hit a league-leading home batting average of .391 and placed third in the National League in road batting average (.353). Helton's MLB-leading 103 extra base hits tied for the fourth most in MLB history and the second most in NL history. His National League-leading numbers in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and batting average gave him the "percentage triple crown." Helton became the second Rockies player (Larry Walker in 1999) to accomplish that feat. Helton and Walker made the Rockies the first team in MLB history to record percentage triple crowns in consecutive seasons with different players. Helton became only the fourth player in National League history to lead the NL in both batting average and RBI. He became the first player in National League history and the fifth player in MLB history (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg are the others) to have at least 200 hits, 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 100 extra base hits and 100 walks in one season.

Helton was invited to his first career Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2000. He also received National League Player of the Month honors for May and August. He finished fifth in voting for the MVP award. However, the Associated Press, The Sporting News, USA Baseball Alumni and Baseball Digest all named Helton the MLB Player of the Year. Buck O'Neil and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum presented Helton with the Walter Fenner "Buck" Leonard Legacy Award. Helton was also given the team-honored version of the Roberto Clemente Man of Year Award, for his community contributions to Eastern Tennessee. Furthermore, he was the National League winner of the second annual Hank Aaron Award. For all of his success, the Colorado Rockies rewarded Helton with a nine-year, $141.5 million dollar contract in April of 2001 that took effect in 2003.

The following season, Helton posted a career-high 49 home runs (22 of them occurred away from Coors Field). The 49 home runs tied teammate Larry Walker for the most home runs ever by a Colorado Rockies player in a single season. Additionally, Helton averaged a .336 batting average, .432 on-base percentage and .685 slugging percentage. He also had 105 extra base hits, making him the first player in MLB history to have at least 100 total extra base hits in back-to-back seasons. Furthermore, Helton attained 402 total bases, making him only the fourth player in MLB history to do so in consecutive seasons (Chuck Klein, Gehrig and Foxx are the others).

Helton appeared in his second consecutive All-Star game in 2001 - his first as a starter. He won his first Gold Glove at first base and was once again a top candidate for MVP, but was overshadowed by Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

In 2002, Helton had a .329 batting average, 30 home runs, 109 RBI, 107 runs and 319 total bases. He became the first player in Rockies history to score at least 100 runs in four consecutive seasons. He was named Player of the Month for May, as he hit .347 with six doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 28 RBI during the month. Helton was named to his third consecutive All-Star game - second straight as a starter. He also received his second consecutive Gold Glove.

2003 saw Helton involved in the closest NL batting race in history, as he hit .35849, while St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols finished first with a .35871 batting average. During the season, Helton also had 33 home runs, 117 RBI, 135 runs, 49 doubles and five triples. He won his fourth Player of the Month honor during the month of April, as he hit .337 with six home runs, 27 RBI, 28 runs, 11 doubles and 24 walks. He also appeared in his fourth consecutive All-Star game.

During the 2004 season, Helton again finished second in the NL batting race, as he hit .347, while San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds hit .362. Helton also had 32 homers and 96 RBI on the season. He became the first player in MLB history to hit at least .315 with 25 HR and 95 RBI in each of his first seven full seasons in the majors. He became only the third player in MLB history to accomplish that feat during any seven-year stretch in a career (Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are the others). He set a franchise record by hitting at least 30 home runs in six consecutive seasons. Helton was named to his team-record fifth consecutive All-Star game and won his third Gold Glove during the season.

In 2005, Helton spent time on the disabled list (July 26 - August 9) for the first time in his career with a strained left calf muscle. He hit .320 with 20 home runs, 79 RBI, 92 runs and 45 doubles for the season. He was under 1.000 in OPS (finished with .979 OPS) for the first time since 1999. Helton also wasn't named to the National League All-Star team for the first time since 1999. However, he did end up joining Gehrig and Bill Terry as the only first baseman in MLB history to have at least a .315 batting average in eight consecutive seasons.

The following season, Helton had to spend time on the disabled list again, this time from April 20 - May 4, as he was diagnosed with acute terminal ileitis. He hit .302 with 15 home runs, 81 RBI, 40 doubles, 91 walks and a .404 on-base percentage for the season. He ended the season below .900 in OPS (he had .880 OPS) for the first time since entering the league in 1997 when he only played 35 games that year. Helton finished third on the Rockies roster in 2006 in runs (94), hits (165), doubles (40), total bases (260) and multi-hit games (42).

Helton's power and RBI production stayed relatively level to his previous year's stats during the 2007 season, as he managed 17 home runs and 91 RBI. Despite these numbers being below his career averages, Helton has so far kept up his string of seven consecutive seasons with an on-base percentage higher than .400, nine consecutive seasons with a batting average above .300, and has also been walked more times than he has struck out (a feat he has accomplished in seven of his first ten full seasons).

Helton recorded his 1,000th career hit at Coors Field on June 20, 2007, in a 6-1 home win over the New York Yankees, becoming only the fifth active player to have 1,000 career hits in one ballpark.

On September 9, 2007, in 4-2 home victory over the San Diego Padres, Helton hit his 35th double of the season. This made him the first and only player in MLB history to have hit 35 or more doubles in at least 10 consecutive seasons (1998 - 2007).

Helton hit his 300th career home run on September 16, 2007, in a 13-0 home win over the Florida Marlins. He became the first player to hit 300 home runs for the Colorado Rockies.

Helton made what was arguably the most pivotal play of the Rockies' 2007 season in the second game of a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 18, 2007. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes, Helton hit an emotional two-run walk-off home run off Dodgers closer Takashi Saito. The home run kept the Rockies alive in the bid to win the wild card or National League West title. The Rockies eventually clinched the National League wild card, in a 9-8 extra innings victory over the San Diego Padres in a wild card tiebreaker game, allowing Helton to appear in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Colorado went on to sweep the Philadelphia Phillies in three games of the National League Division Series. Helton hit a triple in the first pitch of his first career playoff at-bat in the opening game against the Phillies at Philadelphia. The Rockies also swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in four games of the National League Championship Series, sending the Rockies on their first trip to the World Series in franchise history.

Helton is currently in the sixth year of a nine-year, $141.5 million dollar contract and will be a free agent following the 2011 season. In August 2008, Helton was diagnosed with a degenerative back condition, putting his health and ability to continue play in question.

As of September 29, 2007, Helton has batted .367 at Coors Field and .295 on the road. He has averaged one home run per 15.5 at-bats at Coors Field versus one home run per 23.8 at-bats on the road. In a similar number of at-bats (2,849 at home vs. 2,807 on the road), Helton has 225 more RBI at Coors Field than on the road. He also has scored more runs (685 vs. 417), has a higher on base average (.465 vs. .394), slugging average (.662 vs. .502) and OPS (1.127 vs. .897). Helton also walks less, hits fewer doubles and triples, steals fewer bases, and strikes out more frequently on the road. However, it should be noted that one of the reasons for any substantial differences in home and road splits for Rockies batters is that they have to make adjustments in how they see pitches away from Coors Field - particularly breaking balls, such as sliders and curve balls - since those pitches act differently at Coors Field than on the road.

Helton's jersey number, 17, is a tribute to former Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace. Incidentally, Grace wore 17 because former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez wore 17. Hernandez wore 17 with the Mets because he could not wear number 37, his number with the St. Louis Cardinals, since 37 was retired in honor of former player/manager Casey Stengel. Hernandez wore both 37 and 17 to honor former New York Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle, whose number was 7.

Helton and his family - wife Christy and daughter Tierney Faith (born September 24, 2002) - reside in Brighton, Colorado.

As stated earlier, Helton was the backup quarterback to Peyton Manning, while at the University of Tennessee. Coincidentally, his current Rockies teammate, Seth Smith, was the backup to Manning's younger brother, Eli Manning, while at the University of Mississippi. Furthermore, former Tennessee offensive coordinator and current Duke University head coach David Cutcliffe was Helton's quarterback coach at Tennessee and Smith's head coach at Ole Miss.

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List of Major League Baseball players with a .500 slugging percentage

Below is the list of 100 Major League Baseball players who have a career .500 slugging percentage.

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List of Major League Baseball players with a .900 on-base plus slugging

Below is the list of 65 Major League Baseball players who have reached the .900 on-base plus slugging milestone.

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List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs

Below is the list of 300 Major League Baseball players who have reached the 1,000 Runs milestone.

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List of Major League Baseball players with a .400 on-base percentage

Below is the list of 58 Major League Baseball players who have reached the .400 on-base percentage milestone.

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Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies celebrate their second straight victory against the New York Yankees in Coors Field on June 19, 2007.

The Colorado Rockies are a Major League Baseball team based in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1993, the Rockies play in the West Division of the National League. The team is named after the Rocky Mountains, which pass through Colorado, just west of Denver. The Rockies play their home games at Coors Field in downtown Denver.

Following multiple losing seasons, the Rockies won the National League pennant for the first time in franchise history during the 2007 season. The Rockies and the Florida Marlins are the only two teams in Major League Baseball to have never won division titles.

After previous failed attempts to bring the Major League Baseball to Colorado (most notably the Pittsburgh Pirates nearly relocating to Denver following the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985), by the early 1990s a team seemed to be a possibility in Denver. The Colorado Baseball Commission, led by banking executive Larry Varnell, was successful in getting Denver voters to approve a 0.1 percent sales tax to help finance a new baseball stadium. Also, an advisory committee was formed in 1990 by then-Governor of Colorado Roy Romer to recruit an ownership group. The group selected was led by John Antonucci, an Ohio beverage distributor, and Michael I. Monus, the head of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain. Local and regional companies—such as Erie Lake, Hensel Phelps Construction, KOA Radio, and the Rocky Mountain News—rounded out the group. On July 5, 1991, the National League approved Denver and Miami, Florida, as the sites for two expansion teams to begin play in 1993.

The Rockies joined the National League in 1993, along with the Southern Florida franchise, the Florida Marlins. The Rockies' first pick in the expansion draft was pitcher David Nied from the Atlanta Braves organization. Nied pitched 4 seasons for the Rockies.

The first game in Rockies history was played on April 5, 1993, against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. David Nied was the starting pitcher in a game the Rockies lost, 3-0. The franchise's first home game at Mile High Stadium, and first win in franchise history, came four days later with an 11-4 win over the Montreal Expos. One of the most memorable plays in the game, and in team history, occurred in the bottom of the first inning when Eric Young of the Rockies hit a leadoff home run. The game was played before more than 80,000 fans, to date the largest crowd to see a single regular-season Major League Baseball game.

As is the case with many expansion teams, the Rockies struggled in their first year. During one stretch in May, the team went 2-17. The team did not experience its first winning month until September, when they went 17-9. Still, the team finished the season with 67 wins, setting a record for a National League expansion franchise. In addition, despite the losses, the club saw a home attendance of 4,483,350 for the season, setting a Major League record that stands to this day. Rockies first baseman Andrés Galarraga won the batting title after hitting .370 for the season after Manager Don Baylor persuaded Galarraga to change from a standard batting stance into an open one in which he squarely faced the pitcher, allowing him to see incoming pitches properly.

After a 1992 accounting and embezzlement scandal at Phar-Mor tarnished the reputation of Monus, both Monus and Antonucci were forced to sell their stakes in the franchise. Trucking-company executive Jerry McMorris became head of the ownership group and served as the initial public face of management. His relationship with the other partners was somewhat poor, and his role in the leadership of the franchise diminished over time, until he was finally bought out in 2005 (his situation was not helped by the 1999 failure of his trucking firm and subsequent related legal issues).

The team is currently controlled by chief executive officer Charlie Monfort (a former executive with his family's beef-exporting firm and also with ConAgra), and his brother Dick Monfort, who both bought out McMorris' stake.

On April 17, 1994, the Rockies beat Montreal 6-5, moving the team's record to 6-5—the first time in franchise history that the club had a winning record. However, that would be the only time during that season that the club would have a record over .500, finishing at 53-64 and in last place in the National League West in the strike-shortened season. Despite the club's poor record, several Rockies hitters gained notoriety for their exploits at the plate, assisted by the thin and dry air of Denver, which allows balls to carry farther than they would at sea-level ballparks. Andres Galarraga, a year after winning the batting title, hit 31 homers, and teammate Dante Bichette hit 27; projected over a 162-game season, the two would have hit 43 and 37 homers, respectively. The park's characteristics did not affect just home runs either: 33-year-old outfielder Mike Kingery, a career .252 hitter who did not play in the majors in 1993, batted .349 in 301 at-bats. The club once again led the majors in attendance, drawing 3,281,511 fans for the season.

Prior to the 1995 season, the Rockies acquired free-agent outfielder Larry Walker, previously of the Montreal Expos. He would form the group known as the "Blake Street Bombers"—named after the street on which the new ballpark (Coors Field) was located—along with Galarraga, Bichette, and third baseman Vinny Castilla, who had played sparingly with the major-league club during the previous season. The quartet combined to hit 139 homers in the 1995 season, with Bichette leading the way with 40 (45 projected over a 162-game season.) The team debuted in its new ballpark on April 26, 1995, in an 11-9 win over the New York Mets, and proceeded to win seven of their first eight games in the new season. The season ended with a 77-67 record, good for second place in the West division and the club's first playoff appearance as the Wild Card winner. Although much of the attention focused on the power-hitting lineup, much of the club's success was due to a strong bullpen, as relievers Darren Holmes, Curt Leskanic, Steve Reed, and Bruce Ruffin all posted earned-run averages below 3.40. The pitching staff's ERA of 4.97 was the lowest in club history until the 2006 team had a 4.66 ERA. The Rockies lost in the NLDS to the eventual 1995 World Series champion Atlanta Braves, 3 games to 1. The Rockies once again led the league in attendance for the season.

In 1996, with all four Blake Street Bombers returning, the Rockies expected to contend, but an injury to Walker hurt the team. Walker played in only 83 games and batted .276 with 18 homers. However, outfielder Ellis Burks picked up the slack with an All-Star season, batting .344 with 40 homers and 128 RBI—one of three Rockies to hit forty or more homers that season, along with Galarraga and Castilla. The team set a major-league record by scoring 658 runs at home on the season, and Burks and Bichette became the first pair of teammates since Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson of the 1987 New York Mets to both steal 30 bases and hit 30 homers in the same season. However, the pitching staff—a strong point for the team in 1995—was beset by injuries: Bill Swift, who went 9-3 in 1995, started just three games, and the staff ERA ballooned to 5.60. As a result, the Rockies fell back to third place in the West with an 83-79 record.

A healthy Walker became the first player in club history to win the NL Most Valuable Player award in 1997, batting .366 with 49 homers and 130 RBI. Walker came very close to winning the Triple Crown that year, leading the league in home runs but finishing second to Tony Gwynn in batting average and third in RBI (teammate Galarraga led the league.) Once again, three Rockies (Walker, Galarraga, and Castilla) hit 40 or more homers; Walker also won the first Gold Glove in franchise history. As in 1996, though, the team's pitchers struggled in the high elevation and had a 5.25 ERA, and the Rockies could not improve upon their finish from the previous season.

The Rockies were broken up after the 1997 season when an aging Galarraga signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. His replacement was Todd Helton, who had been the club's first-round draft pick in 1995 out of the University of Tennessee. After a 4-1 start, the club lost its next eight games and struggled to a 77-85 record, finishing only ahead of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. Pitcher Darryl Kile, signed as a free agent in the offseason, struggled in Colorado, going 13-17 with a 5.20 ERA—a far cry from his numbers the prior year as a member of the Houston Astros, when he went 19-7 with a 2.57 ERA. Kile would become one of a long line of free-agent pitchers who struggled after signing with the Rockies. The team's struggles led to the firing of manager Don Baylor, the only manager in franchise history, following the season.

Jim Leyland, a two-time NL Manager of the Year who had won the World Series with the Florida Marlins two years earlier, was expected to bring the Rockies back into contention in 1999. Instead, the Rockies dropped even further, finishing 72-90 and in last place in the West as the Diamondbacks won the division in just their second year of existence. Helton was blossoming into a young developed hitter, batting .320 with 35 homers and 113 RBI; Castilla, Walker, and Bichette also hit more than 30 homers each. Once again, though, the team's pitching was a glaring weakness, as the staff had an ERA of 6.02. Kile, who was being paid over $8 million for the season, struggled mightily, going 8-13 with a 6.61 ERA, and he wound up being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals following the season. Interestingly, Kile would go on to finish fifth in voting for the Cy Young Award the following year, as he had in 1997 (the year before he joined the Rockies), and was later found dead in a Chicago hotel room in 2002. The Leyland era lasted just one year, as a frustrated Leyland retired following the season, not to manage in the majors again until 2006, when he won an AL Pennant with the Detroit Tigers.

On April 4, 1999, the Rockies made history as they played their Opening Day game against the defending National League champion San Diego Padres at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico - marking the first time Major League Baseball opened the regular season outside the United States or Canada. Colorado beat San Diego, 8–2, in front of a crowd of 27,104 people. Only a little over 2 weeks later, the Columbine High School massacre postponed a home game with the Montreal Expos (it was made up as part of a doubleheader in August).

On August 20, 1999, Bob Gebhard, the only general manager in franchise history, announced his resignation. A month later, the Rockies named Dan O'Dowd as his replacement. After hiring Buddy Bell as the club's third manager, O'Dowd proceeded to make a series of offseason deals that would change the face of the franchise. Popular outfielder Dante Bichette was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Later, he traded Kile to the Cardinals and, in a four-team trade, sent Vinny Castilla to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. With those two deals, Larry Walker remained as the only player from the Blake Street Bombers still with the team. Walker wound up playing in only 87 games in 2000 due to injuries and hit just nine homers, as the Rockies had a completely different look from prior years. Perhaps not surprisingly given the injury to Walker and the trading of two of the team's most popular players, the Rockies finished third in the National League in attendance in 2000, marking the first time in club history that it did not lead the league in attendance.

Despite the major changes made to the team in the offseason, the team wound up with its first winning season since 1997. Helton, in his third full year in the majors, was becoming a bona fide superstar, winning the batting title with a .372 average and also leading the league with 147 RBI while hitting 42 homers. However, he finished just fifth in MVP voting, perhaps because the team finished fourth in the division and also possibly due to bias by voters because he played half of his games in hitter-friendly Coors Field. 2000 also marked the first of five consecutive All-Star Game appearances for Helton. The pitching staff also improved its ERA to 5.26, helping the team to an 82-80 record.

Although previous big-name pitchers, including Bill Swift, Bret Saberhagen, and Darryl Kile, had struggled in Colorado, following the 2000 season O'Dowd made two very splashy signings in the free-agent market, signing Denny Neagle to a five-year contract worth $51 million, followed five days later by signing Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $121 million contract. Two years earlier, Hampton had won 22 games and finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award as a member of the Houston Astros, while Neagle had been a 20-game winner in 1997 for the Atlanta Braves and had won fifteen games in 2000. The two star pitchers were expected by the Rockies to change the team's fortunes.

Instead, the two flopped, much as their predecessors had. Hampton, after a strong first half in 2001, completely fell apart in 2002, going 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA and demanding a trade following the season. Neagle went 19-23 in three years with the Rockies; he was injured in 2003 and never pitched in the majors again before the Rockies released him after the 2004 season. The Rockies went 73-89 in both years that Hampton and Neagle were in Colorado, and the amount of money owed them (the Rockies paid a sizable portion of Hampton's salary even after he was traded to the Atlanta Braves) crippled the team for the next several years.

Under previous general manager Gebhard, the Rockies had largely neglected their farm system and mostly relied on signing veteran free agents from other clubs; this was possible due to the high attendance numbers in the club's first few years of attendance. However, as attendance began to dwindle -- the Rockies fell to just sixth in the National League in attendance in 2002, and ninth in 2003 and 2004 -- the club could no longer afford to build through big-name free agents. In 1999, the Rockies spent their first-round draft pick on Baylor University pitcher Jason Jennings; three years later, Jennings went 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA. In the process, Jennings became the first Rockies player to win the National League Rookie of the Year award.

With Hampton out of town and Neagle injured much of the year, Jennings became the centerpiece of the Rockies' pitching staff in 2003. Despite a fourth straight All-Star season by Helton and 36 homers by outfielder Preston Wilson, the Rockies finished just 74-88. In addition to Jennings, though, young pitchers Shawn Chacon and Aaron Cook showed promise.

In 2004, the Rockies acquired Vinny Castilla, who had been with the club for its inaugural 1993 season, once again, and he hit 35 homers. However, Wilson and Larry Walker spent much of the season on the disabled list, forcing the Rockies to play Matt Holliday, who had been slated to start the season at Triple-A. While the Rockies struggled to a 68-94 record -- the second worst record in club history -- the club's Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, went 78-65. Declining attendance meant that the club's payroll could no longer support a franchise stocked largely with veterans from other clubs. In addition, Walker, who had been with the team since 1995 and was widely regarded as the best player in team history, was now 37 years old, and injuries prevented him from playing much of the time. Because he could still be useful to a contending team, the Rockies traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals in August for three minor-leaguers.

The result of all the moves was a 67-95 record in 2005, which tied for the worst record in franchise history, as the young players -- many of whom had never been everyday players in the majors prior to that season -- struggled. Helton and Wilson -- virtually the only experienced players on the team -- struggled as well; Helton hit just 20 homers, the fewest of his career, and missed the All-Star Game for the first time since 1999 and also went on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Wilson also spent time on the disabled list and, as the Rockies fell out of contention, was traded to the Washington Nationals. After starting the season 15-35, though, the team had some success later in the year, going a respectable 30-28 in August and September as the youngsters became more experienced. However, perhaps because of the trade of Walker and several consecutive losing seasons, the team fell all the way to fourteenth in the National League in attendance; for the first time in team history, the Rockies drew under 2 million fans for the season.

The 2006 season started with some promise; the Rockies were 44-43 in the first half of the season and were in contention in the NL West for much of the season. However, the team faded in the second half and wound up at 76-86, tied for fourth place in the division. Despite this, several of the young players showed promise. Matt Holliday hit 34 homers and was named to the All-Star Game; Garrett Atkins batted .329 and hit 29 homers. In addition, the pitching staff posted a 4.66 ERA -- the best in team history -- and starters Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook, and Jeff Francis had good seasons.

The Rockies trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres for most of 2007 Major League Baseball season season - however - by August, Colorado showed a steady series of wins, while the Division-leading Dodgers began to struggle.

By September, the Dodgers were eliminated by the Rockies from playoff contention, and the Diamondbacks were expected to clinch the National League West division title. The Padres held a steady lead on the National League wild card spot. The Diamondbacks eventually clinched the NL West division title, but the Rockies shot up with one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history. They were a major-league best 20–8 in September, after trailing 6 games on September 1st. They won their last 14 of 15 games, including 11 in a row, the most of any team in the 2007 season and an all-time franchise record. The only loss during that streak was to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a loss that clinched the Diamondbacks' playoff spot. Their 90-73 regular season mark set a franchise record. They also finished ahead of the Dodgers in the division for the first time in franchise history. Furthermore, Colorado set the single-season MLB record for fielding percentage by one team (.98925). Despite the Rockies record-setting performance, the National League coaches and players didn't vote in any of Colorado's players for the NL Gold Glove award. The two most puzzling omissions were first baseman Todd Helton and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Both players had a better fielding percentage, more total chances, better zone rating, more putouts, more double plays turned, better range factor and more assists than their counterparts who won the award instead (Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee and Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins). Helton also had fewer errors (2) than Lee (7), while Tulowitzki had as many errors as Rollins (11), but did so on 834 total chances compared to Rollins' 717.

As a result of the Rockies' remarkable September run, the team finished the regular season tied with the Padres for the National League wild card spot in the playoffs. The two teams played a wild card tie-breaker game at Coors Field on October 1 to determine the wild card. The game lasted 13 innings, and although the Padres got two runs off of a Scott Hairston home run in the top of the 13th inning to break a 6–6 tie, the Rockies came back in the bottom of the 13th by scoring three runs off of closer Trevor Hoffman to win 9–8. Second baseman Kazuo Matsui started off the inning by hitting a double. Tulowitzki followed with a double of his own, thus, allowing Matsui to score. Left fielder Matt Holliday then came up to bat and hit a triple, scoring Tulowitzki. After an intentional walk to Helton, the Padres pitched to utility infielder Jamey Carroll, who then hit a sacrifice fly, allowing Holliday to score from third base. Holliday's winning run came off of a controversial slide in which home plate umpire Tim McClelland called Holliday safe, despite replays being inconclusive as to whether Holliday had actually touched the plate. The Rockies completed the fifth greatest regular season comeback in Major League Baseball history.

With the win, the Rockies made the playoffs for the first time since 1995, and went on to face the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. Colorado won the first game in Philadelphia, 4-2. The Rockies also won the second game in Philadelphia, 10-5, with the help of Kazuo Matsui's 4th inning grand slam. On October 6, 2007, the Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies by winning 2-1 in Colorado. The three-game sweep was Colorado's first post-season series win in team history. The Rockies went on to play in the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who swept their own NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. Colorado won the first two games of the NLCS against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, then won their third game against the Diamondbacks in Denver on Sunday, October 14th. That pushed the Rockies' combined late-season (September 16 and after) and post-season run to 20 wins and just 1 loss, the single loss coming against Arizona on September 28, 2007 - the 160th game of the regular season. This made Colorado only the third team in the last half-century, and the first in the National League since the 1936 New York Giants, to have a 20-1 stretch at any point of a season. The fourth game of the NLCS was won by the Rockies by a score of 6–4, completing a four-game sweep of Arizona. Holliday was named the NLCS MVP, as he hit .333 with two home runs and four RBIs during the series. The NLCS sweep earned the Rockies their first National League pennant in franchise history. The Rockies became the first team ever to sweep both the division series and league championship series in the same postseason. The club moved to 21–1 over all games played after September 15. The Rockies faced the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 World Series, and were swept in four games; the first game was 13–1, the second game was 2–1, the third game was 10–5, and the fourth and final game was 4–3.

The Colorado Rockies began the 2008 season after few offseason changes from the National League champion squad of 2007. Major losses were all to free agency (second baseman Kaz Matsui went to the Houston Astros and pitcher Josh Fogg went to the Cincinnati Reds). The Rockies season was scheduled to begin on March 31 against the St. Louis Cardinals at St. Louis, however, the game was rescheduled to the next day because of foul weather. Colorado began the season on a high note, winning their opener on April 1, in a 2-1 comeback victory over the Cardinals.

On April 17, 2008, Colorado beat the San Diego Padres, 2–1, in a 22-inning road game that spanned 6 hours and 16 minutes. It was the longest game in Rockies history, in terms of both total innings and total length of time. 659 total pitches were thrown in the game by 15 different pitchers (eight Rockies pitchers and seven Padres pitchers). The 22-inning affair was the longest since August 31, 1993, when the Minnesota Twins, at home, defeated the Cleveland Indians, 5-4, in 22 innings.

On July 1, 2008, the Rockies defeated the San Diego Padres, 4–0, in the shortest nine-inning game in Coors Field history - one hour and 58 minutes.

On July 4, 2008, Colorado defeated the Florida Marlins, 18-17, after at one point being down, 13-4. The nine-run deficit that the Rockies overcame made it the largest comeback win in team history.

The Rockies ended the season finishing third in the National League West with a 74-88 record, failing to make the playoffs. The team got rid of hitting coach Alan Cockrell, third base coach Mike Gallego and bench coach Jamie Quirk after the disappointing season. The Rockies also traded away Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith, and outfielder Carlos González.

On October 17, 2007, a week before the first game of the 2007 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, the Colorado Rockies announced that tickets would be made available to the general public via online sales only, despite prior arrangements to sell the tickets at local retail outlets. Five days later on October 22, California-based ticket vendor Paciolan, Inc., the sole contractor authorized by the Colorado Rockies to distribute tickets, was forced to suspend sales after less than an hour due to an overwhelming number of attempts to purchase tickets.

An official release from the baseball organization claimed that they were the victims of a denial of service attack. These claims, however, were unsubstantiated and neither the Rockies nor Paciolan have sought investigation into the matter. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation started its own investigation into the claims. Ticket sales resumed the next day, with all three home games selling out within two and a half hours.

As a result of the decision to sell tickets solely online, local fans of the Rockies were placed at a disadvantage, forced to compete with ticket brokers and ticket scalpers from around the world. Also at a disadvantage were the disabled and those unable to access or afford an internet connection. It is widely accepted that agents and scalpers purchased a majority of the tickets made available to the general public. Within an hour of tickets selling out, the average price had inflated to over five times face value, and by the next day, soared to over 100 times face value.

As of the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame election, no inducted members have played for the Rockies organization.

Jackie Robinson's number was retired throughout Major League Baseball.

As of 2007, Rockies' flagship radio station is KOA 850AM, with some late-season games broadcast on KKZN 760AM due to conflicts with Denver Broncos games. Jeff Kingery and Jack Corrigan are the radio announcers. The Rockies Radio Network is composed of 38 affiliate stations in eight states.

Television coverage is split between KTVD, "My 20" and FSN Rocky Mountain. Jeff Huson, Drew Goodman and George Frazier form the TV broadcast team. All games are produced by FSN Rocky Mountain.

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Silver Slugger Award

Alex Rodriguez is tied for second on the all-time winners' list, behind only Barry Bonds.

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award consists of a 3-foot (91 cm) tall silver bat trophy with the engraved names of each of the winners from the league.

As with the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the prize is presented to outfielders irrespective of their specific position. This means that it is possible for three left fielders, or any other combination of outfielders, to win the award in the same year, rather than one left fielder, one center fielder, and one right fielder. In addition, because lineups in the American League include the designated hitter (DH), that position receives a Silver Slugger Award rather than the pitchers, who receive an award in the National League because they are included in the batting order.

Embattled home run record-holder Barry Bonds has won 12 Silver Slugger Awards in his career as an outfielder, the most of any player. He also won the award in five consecutive seasons twice in his career: from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2004. Retired catcher Mike Piazza and current New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are tied for second, with ten wins each. Rodriguez' awards are split between two positions; he won seven Silver Sluggers as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, and three with the Yankees as a third baseman. Wade Boggs leads third basemen with eight Silver Slugger Awards; Barry Larkin leads shortstops with nine. Other leaders include Ryne Sandberg (seven wins as a second baseman), Mike Hampton (five wins as a pitcher), and Todd Helton (four wins as a first baseman). Three players are tied for the most wins among designated hitters: Edgar Martínez, Paul Molitor, and David Ortiz all have four wins at the position, though Martínez also won one award at third base.

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Peyton Manning

Manning cropped.jpg

Peyton Williams Manning (born March 24, 1976 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is an American football quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. One of only two three-time NFL MVPs, he is statistically one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He was drafted by the Colts as the first overall pick in 1998 after a standout college football career with the Tennessee Volunteers. The son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, he is the older brother of current New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning holds NFL records for consecutive seasons with over 4,000 yards passing and the most total seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career. Manning holds the highest career passer rating among active quarterbacks and his 94.7 rating puts him second all-time behind only Steve Young. He is the all-time career passing yards and passing touchdowns leader for the Colts franchise.

Since the Colts drafted Manning in 1998, the team has the highest conversion rate on 3rd down (44.6%) and 4th down (61.1%) plays in the NFL. While leading the Colts to their Super Bowl XLI victory in 2006, Manning helped the team to an NFL record by converting 56.1% of its 3rd downs.

Having become the NFL's most marketable player, Manning has appeared in numerous commercials, was featured on the covers of the NFL Fever games for the Xbox, and hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live.

Manning stunned many when he chose to attend the University of Tennessee instead of Ole Miss, his father's alma mater. He became Tennessee's all-time leading passer with 11,201 yards and 89 touchdowns and won 39 of 45 games as a starter, breaking the Southeastern Conference (SEC) record for career wins.

As a freshman, Manning was the third-string quarterback, but injuries to Todd Helton and Jerry Colquitt forced him to take over the Mississippi State game, a 24–21 loss. In his first start, the following week against Washington State, the Vols won, 10–9, and the Vols won all but one of their remaining games, finishing the season 8–4 with a 45–23 victory over Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

Manning and the Vols started off the 1995 season with victories over East Carolina and Georgia, before heading off to Gainesville to play the Gators. Against Florida, he threw for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading the Vols to a 30–21 halftime lead. However, the Gators outscored the Vols 41–7 in the second half, winning 62–37. This would be the Vols' only loss of the season, as they won their remaining 8 regular season games, including a 41–14 win over Alabama and then defeated Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl. The Vols ended the season ranked third and Manning came in sixth in Heisman Trophy voting.

The Vols opened the 1996 season ranked second behind Nebraska and one of the favorites to win the national championship. However, after winning their first two games against UNLV and UCLA, the Vols again lost to Florida, 35–29, with Manning throwing four interceptions. After winning their next four games, the Vols were upset by Memphis, despite Manning passing for 296 yards. The Vols won the remainder of their games, including a 48–28 win in the Citrus Bowl over Northwestern, a game in which Manning passed for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns; he was named the game's MVP.

Manning completed his degree in three years, and was projected to be the top overall pick in the NFL Draft, but returned to Tennessee for his senior year. In his senior season, the Vols opened the season with victories against Texas Tech and UCLA, but for the third time in his career, Manning fell to Florida, 33–20. The Vols won the rest of their regular season games, finishing 10–1, and advanced to the SEC Championship game against Auburn. Down 20–7, Manning led the Vols to a 30–29 victory. Throwing for 4 touchdowns, he was named the game's MVP, but injured himself in the process. The 3rd-ranked Vols were matched-up with 2nd-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl; if Tennessee won and top-ranked Michigan lost to Washington State in the Rose Bowl, the Vols would win the national championship. However, the Vols' defense could not stop Nebraska's rushing attack, giving up over 400 rushing yards in a 42–17 loss. As a senior, Manning won numerous awards; he was a consensus first-team All-American, the Maxwell Award winner, the Davey O'Brien Award winner, the Johnny Unitas Award winner, and the Best College Player ESPY Award winner, among others; however, he did not win the Heisman, finishing runner-up to Charles Woodson. In 2005, Tennessee retired Manning's number (#16). One of the streets leading to Neyland Stadium has been re-named Peyton Manning Pass.

Manning was selected first overall in the 1998 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. In his rookie season, he passed for 3,739 yards with 26 touchdowns, set five different NFL rookie records, including most touchdown passes in a season, and was named to the NFL All-Rookie First Team. Manning's first win came against fellow rookie quarterback Ryan Leaf, 17–12 over the Chargers. Weeks later, Manning faced off against Steve Young; he threw three touchdowns, tying a Colts rookie record, but the 49ers kicked a late field goal to win, 34–31. In November against the Jets, Manning threw for three touchdowns in a 24–23 win; he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for this performance. It was the first game-winning drive of Manning's career, as he hit Marcus Pollard with the game-winning TD pass. The Colts lost many close games, including five games in which they had led by double-digits at some point, and finished 3–13.

The Colts opened the 1999 season with a 31–14 victory over Buffalo, but gave up a 28–7 lead the following week against the Patriots and lost. After defeating San Diego 27–19 in a game in which Manning threw for over 400 yards, and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for they lost again, to Miami. The Colts responded by winning 11 of their remaining 12 games, finishing 13–3 and the AFC East champions. The 10 game turnaround from the previous year set an NFL record. As the second seed in the AFC, the Colts earned a first round bye, and faced Tennessee in the play-offs. The Colts lost 19–16 to the Super Bowl bound Titans and Manning was held without a touchdown. Manning finished the year with 4,135 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns, and was named both Second Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl, both firsts for him. In the Pro Bowl, he passed for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns.

The Colts started off the 2000 season inconsistent. Following an opening week victory against Kansas City, they blew a 21–0 lead against the Raiders. The Colts responded with a Monday Night victory against Jacksonville, a 43–14 win in which Manning threw for 430 yards and 4 touchdowns; Manning was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for this performance. The Colts won 4 of their next 5 games, including one against New England in which Manning posted the first perfect passer rating of his career, but then lost 4 of the 5 games following that. The Colts regained their momentum, winning their final 3 games, including a 31–10 win over Minnesota on Week 17. Manning threw for 4 touchdowns in the win and was again named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the win gave the Colts a 10-6 record as well as a wild card spot in the play-offs. In the wild card game, the Colts fell to the Dolphins, 23–17 in overtime. Manning passed for 194 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He finished the season with 4,413 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns and was named Second Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. At the Pro Bowl, Manning threw two touchdown passes.

During the 2001 season, Manning and the Colts introduced the league to their now-signature no-huddle offense, and used it to great effect in a Week 1 rout of the Jets, 45–24. The next week, the Colts advanced to 2–0 with a win over Buffalo, behind Manning's 421 yards passing. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for this game. However, the Colts lost the following week to New England, and continued their slide losing their following two games. The Colts briefly rebounded, winning two games, but then lost seven of their last nine, finishing the season 6–10. Despite the poor record, Manning finished the season with 4,131 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns.

The Colts started off the 2002 season 4–1, before a 3 game losing streak sent them to 4–4. The Colts responded by winning all but two of their remaining games, including a 35–13 upset of the Eagles in which Manning had a perfect quarterback rating for the second time in his career, giving them a 10–6 record and a spot in the play-offs. However, the Colts were pummeled by the Jets in the Wild Card game, 41–0, with Manning passing for only 137 yards. He finished the year with 4,200 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl team. In the Pro Bowl, Manning completed five of eleven passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

The 2003 Colts began the season 5–0, including a 55–21 blowout of the Saints in which Manning played his third perfect game, earning him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. After an overtime loss to Carolina, the Colts won all but three of their remaining games, finishing 12–4. In a Week 14 win against Atlanta, Manning threw for five touchdowns and was named player of the week a second time. He also earned AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for the month of October. In the Wild Card playoff round Manning and the Colts defeated the Denver Broncos 41–10, his first playoff win. He passed for 377 yards and 5 touchdowns in the game, earning him a perfect passer rating, his second of the season and the fourth of his career. After the game, Manning was awarded Player of the Week honors for the third time that season. In the divisional playoffs, Manning led the Colts to a 38–31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. In the AFC title game Manning was shut down by the New England Patriots defense and posted the third lowest passer rating of his career at 35.5. The Patriots defense intercepted Manning four times and sacked him another four, as the Colts lost the game 24–14. During the season, Manning was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and was named the AP NFL co-MVP along with Titans quarterback Steve McNair. Manning also received the ESPY Award for Best NFL Player. Manning led the league with 4,267 passing yards and threw 29 touchdowns; he was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. He passed for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Pro Bowl, a 55–52 loss.

The 2004 Colts opened the season with a 27–24 loss to the Patriots, after Mike Vanderjagt missed a potentially game tying field goal in the closing seconds of the game. The Colts won their next four games including a 45–31 win over Green Bay in which Manning threw 5 touchdowns, earning him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, but then lost their next two games, to Jacksonville and Kansas City, despite Manning throwing for 840 yards combined in the two games. The Colts responded well, winning their next 8 games before losing their final regular season game to Denver, a game in which Manning played only one series. During the month of November, Manning was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week twice; once for his 5 touchdown performance in a 49–14 blowout of Houston and once for his performance in a 41–9 win at Detroit in which he threw 6 touchdowns in less than three quarters. Due to his performances in November, Manning earned AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for a fourth time in the week 16 game against San Diego where he led the Colts to a 34–31 victory after trailing by fifteen in the fourth quarter.

During the season, Manning threw for 4,557 yards, had a record 121.1 quarterback rating and 49 touchdowns, which was also a record (since broken)., He was selected as the 2004 NFL MVP drawing 49 of 50 votes, was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year and was named the Best NFL Player at the ESPY Awards for the second consecutive year; Manning also received the ESPY Award for Best Record-Breaking Performance for his 49 touchdown passes. The Colts finished the season with a 12–4 record and their second straight AFC South title. They were the third seed in the AFC. Three Colts receivers had 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns that season.

In the Wild Card game against Denver, Manning passed for 458 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, the Colts' 2004 season ended in Foxborough for a second straight year with a 20–3 loss against New England, when Manning recorded a season-low passer rating of 69.3. It was Manning's seventh consecutive loss to the Patriots in Foxborough and the Colts' three points were their lowest single game point total since their opening game of the 2003 season. Manning was named a Pro Bowl starter; in the Pro Bowl, he threw 3 touchdowns in a 38–27 victory and was named the game's MVP. Manning was also a unanimous First Team All-Pro selection.

In 2005, the Colts had a greatly improved defense over that of recent years. Combining this with their offense, they won their first 13 games, including a 40–21 rout of the two-time defending Super Bowl Champions, New England. This was Manning's first road win against the Patriots in 8 attempts, and his 3 touchdowns passes earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. By week 15, the Colts had a perfect 13–0 record, and had secured the AFC South and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Nevertheless, Tony Dungy made the decision to play all of his regular starters against the Chargers. However, the Colts played a sub-par game against the Chargers and fell short of the win; the score was 26–17. Manning finished the season with 3,747 passing yards, the first time he had thrown for under 4,000 yards since his rookie season of 1998, largely due to the fact that Manning sat out much of the final two games with the top AFC seed clinched. His quarterback rating of 104.1 was the highest in the league for the season.

In the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers visited the RCA Dome for the second AFC divisional playoff game of the 2005 season. In the 4th quarter with only a few minutes left in the game, Manning threw what looked to be the game-ending interception to Troy Polamalu, but the interception was overturned (a call the NFL later admitted was incorrect). The Colts went on to score, and were able to get the ball back down three points near the end of the game. On 4th down, Manning was sacked near his own goal line, and the game seemed to be over as the Steelers were one yard from a touchdown. On the next play, the ball was fumbled by Jerome Bettis and picked up by Colts defender Nick Harper who appeared to have a clear path down the sideline for what might have been the game-winning score. However, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger managed to dive in front of Harper and tackle him by the leg, saving a touchdown. Then the Colts drove down the field to the Steelers 27 yard line, before Mike Vanderjagt missed a field goal as time ran out.

Manning came in second in voting for the MVP award to Shaun Alexander ending his streak at two years. He was named the 2005 winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and nominated for the FedEx Air Player of the Year Award, along with Tom Brady and Carson Palmer. Manning was also named First Team All-Pro for the third consecutive year and named to the Pro Bowl squad; in the Pro Bowl, he threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions.

The Colts started the 2006 season 9–0, including victories against Houston and Washington in weeks 2 and 7 that earned Manning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and a week 9 victory over New England. Manning was also named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after a week 17 victory against Miami. The Colts finished the season 12–4 and the AFC South Champions, and entered the play-offs as the number 3 seed. Manning ended the regular season with 4,397 passing yards and a league-leading 31 touchdown passes. His quarterback rating (101.0) was the highest in the league for the third year in a row.

Manning's Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs by a score of 23–8, then won their game against the Baltimore Ravens, 15–6. In the AFC Championship game, the Colts trailed 21–3 before coming back to defeat the Patriots for the title by a score of 38–34. Late in the fourth quarter, Manning led an 80 yard touchdown drive to take the lead and finished with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns. The comeback was the largest deficit ever overcome in a conference championship.

Manning led the Colts to a 29–17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI and was voted the Super Bowl MVP. Manning, who had been criticized for failing to win big games, exorcised his big-game demons with the win. "In years' past when our team's come up short, it's been disappointing," he told reporters. "Somehow we found a way to have learned from some of those losses and we've been a better team because of it." For his role in the Colts' championship run, Manning was awarded the ESPY for Best Championship Performance. Manning was again named to the Pro Bowl and was also named Second-Team All-Pro; in the Pro Bowl he played only two series, passing for 67 yards. Following the Super Bowl win, Manning agreed to restructure his contract to save the Colts $8.2 million in salary cap space.

Manning's Colts opened the NFL season with 7 wins, pitting them against an undefeated Patriots squad in a match-up that was being called "Super Bowl 41.5". Manning and Addai helped the Colts to a 13–7 half-time lead, and an early fourth quarter touchdown upped the lead to 20–10. However, Brady led the Patriots to two late touchdowns, to hand Manning his first loss of the season, 24–20. Manning finished the game with 225 yards passing, including a passing touchdown. He also had a rushing touchdown.

Manning did not bounce back from the loss well. Against the San Diego Chargers he threw for a career-worst and franchise-record 6 interceptions. Despite this, he was able to rally the Colts from a 23–0 deficit to 23–21, and gave Adam Vinatieri an opportunity to take the lead with a 29-yard field goal. Vinatieri's miss sunk the Colts to 7–2. Manning did not play particularly well against the Kansas City Chiefs either, throwing no touchdowns. However, he managed to lead the Colts on a late drive for a game-winning field goal, rushing for two yards on 4th and 1 in the process. Manning finished the game with 163 passing yards, allowing him to overtake 40,000 in his career. The victory was Manning's 100th. The Colts won their next 5 games, securing them with yet another AFC South title, as well as the AFC's number two seed in the play-offs. In the final game of the season, Manning played only two series before being replaced with back-up Jim Sorgi; the Colts lost the game to the Titans, 16–10. Manning finished the season with 4,040 passing yards, 31 touchdown passes, and a quarterback rating of 98.0. In the divisional round of the playoffs, Manning and the Colts lost to the Chargers, 28–24. Manning helped the Colts to 4 different leads but could not lead a final touchdown drive for the win. Manning finished the game with 402 yards passing and 3 passing touchdowns. Manning was named a Pro Bowl starter and passed for 147 yards and a touchdown in three series.

On July 14, 2008, Manning had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his left knee. Manning, who had worn a knee brace due to problems since he was in college, sat out all four preseason games and missed most of training camp.

In the first regular season game at new Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts lost 29–13 to the Chicago Bears. The following week they fell behind 15–0 to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2nd half before rallying to win the game on Adam Vinatieri's 47 yard field goal. Manning passed for 311 yards as the Colts avoided their first 0–2 start since Manning's rookie season.

Week 3 matched the Colts with division rival Jacksonville. Manning threw 2 interceptions in the game, including one that was returned for a TD by Rashean Mathis. Jacksonville rushed for 236 yards and held the ball for over 41 minutes. Still, trailing by 6 late in the game Manning led the Colts on a 77-yard TD drive to take a 21-20 lead. Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee made a 51 yard field goal to win the game and drop the Colts to 1–2.

For the third week in a row, Manning used the 4th quarter to bring the Colts back from a 27–10 deficit in the last 5 minutes against the Houston Texans to a 31–27 victory. It was the first time a NFL team had won a game in regulation after trailing by 17 points in the last 5 minutes. Manning threw a 7 yard TD pass on 4th & 6 to rookie tight end Tom Santi to make the deficit 27–17. Houston QB Sage Rosenfels, starting for the injured Matt Schaub, then fumbled the ball on a scramble, and it was returned 68 yards for a TD by Gary Brackett. After another Rosenfels fumble, Manning threw the 5-yard game-winning TD pass to Reggie Wayne. The Colts scored 3 TDs in 2:10.

On October 12 Manning led the Colts to a 31–3 blow out win at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens to avoid their first 0–3 start at home since 1997. The win moved Manning past Terry Bradshaw on the all-time wins list with 108. Manning was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 17th time in his career for his effort of 3 TD passes and 271 yards passing. It was revealed during the game by CBS commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms that Manning had a second surgery on his knee before the season started. Colts coach Tony Dungy confirmed this report the day after the Baltimore game.

The Colts suffered their largest margin of defeat, 34–14, in Green Bay the following week. Manning threw 2 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns (2nd time in career; 1st was 9/30/01 vs. New England Patriots). The next week the Colts went into Tennessee on Monday Night Football to face the 6–0 Titans. They led 14–6 in the 3rd quarter, but Tennessee scored 25 unanswered for a 31–21 victory and almost assured the Colts they would not win the AFC South division title for the first time in 6 seasons. At 3–4 the Colts opened up November with their annual showdown against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The game lacked the luster the rivalry has carried, as there was no Tom Brady, no undefeated season on the line, and neither team was in 1st place of their division. Still, the game was close all the way. Tied at 15 in the 4th quarter, Manning set up Adam Vinatieri for a 52 yard field goal that proved to be the winning points in an 18–15 victory. Manning completed 21 of 29 passes for 254 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Colts were 4–4 halfway through the season and still alive in the AFC playoff race.

At San Diego, Manning completed 32 of 44 for 255 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in a 23-20 victory. The interception snapped his streak of 140 pass attempts without an interception, the longest streak of his career. After the Chargers rallied from a 10 point deficit in the 4th to tie the game at 20, Manning led the game-winning drive by completing a 14 yard pass to Marvin Harrison on 4th and inches at midfield. Adam Vinateri kicked the winning 51 yard field goal three plays later. It was Manning's 5th game-winning drive in the 4th quarter this season. The win snapped a 3-game losing streak to the Chargers. Manning passed for a season-low 125 yards at Cleveland, but the Colts won their 5th straight game, by a final of 10–6.

In a 35-3 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, Manning threw 3 TD passes while completing 26 of 32 passes for 277 yards. It marked the 11th straight season Manning had thrown at least 20 TD passes, the 2nd longest streak ever. Against the 0–13 Detroit Lions, the Colts found themselves in a 21–21 game in the 4th quarter. Manning led his 6th game-winning drive of the season and the Colts pulled away 31-21. It marked their 7th straight win, 7th straight season with 10+ wins, and they became the only team in NFL history to have a winning streak of at least 7 games in 5 straight seasons. Manning completed 28 of 37 passes for 318 yards and 1 TD.

Needing a win to clinch the 5th seed in the playoffs, Manning had one of his best career performances in Jacksonville on Thursday Night Football. He completed his first 17 passes of the game. In addition to completing his last 6 against Detroit, Manning's 23 straight completions fell one shy of the NFL record (Donovan McNabb - 24). The Colts trailed 14-0 in the first half and 24-14 to start the 4th quarter. Manning led his 7th 4th quarter comeback of the season and the Colts put the game away with a defensive TD for a 31-24 victory to clinch a 7th consecutive playoff berth. Manning completed 29 of 34 passes (85.7%) for 364 yards and 3 TDs. It increased his NFL record streak of seasons with 25 TD passes to 11. Manning and the Colts tied a NFL record by winning 3 games in a season in which they trailed by at least 14 points. For his efforts Manning won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time in 2008. It was the 19th time he has won the award, passing Dan Marino for the most all-time since the award was originated in 1984. He also was selected as the FedEx Air Player of the Week. With the playoff seed secured, Manning only played the opening drive against the Titans in Week 17. He completed all 7 of his passes for 95 yards and a TD, extending his NFL record to nine seasons with 4000 yards passing, and also extended the record to a sixth straight season he led the Colts to at least 12 wins. At the end of the 2008 season, Manning was named NFL MVP for the 3rd time, tying Brett Favre for the most MVP awards in NFL history.

Manning's pre-snap routine has become one of the most recognizable scenes in the NFL. Prior to each play in a football game, the offensive team generally huddles. In the huddle, the quarterback tells the other players what play they will run. Manning and the Colts skip the huddle, instead choosing to line up without a play called, known as a hurry-up offense. Once the Colts are lined up, Manning examines the opposing team's defense and chooses a play that he believes will be successful. After he makes his decision, Manning communicates this play to the rest of the team through a series of audibles in the form of verbal and hand signals. In order to prevent the other team from determining what each of the signals means, Manning includes numerous fake signals that do not change the play. Under this play-calling system, the Colts have maintained a strong offense.

Manning married his wife Ashley in Memphis on St. Patrick's Day in 2001. Ashley was introduced to him by her parents' next-door neighbor the summer before Manning's freshman year in college.

During the summer, Archie, Peyton, Eli, and Cooper run the Manning Passing Academy, a five day camp which aims to improve the offensive skills of quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. In addition to the Mannings, the camp has included many prominent players from football as coaches, such as Colts wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

Peyton, along with Archie, authored a book entitled Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy, which was released in 2000. The book covers Archie's and Cooper's lives and careers, and Peyton's life and career up to the time that the book was released, and examines football from both Archie's and Peyton's points-of-view.

Manning has become the NFL's most marketable player, appearing in several television and printed advertisements for some of the NFL's biggest sponsors. Manning is recognized as a pitchman for the following companies: Sprint, Sony, MasterCard, Gatorade, DirecTV, H.H. Gregg, and the American Red Cross. Manning also was the spokesman for Xbox's NFL Fever games, and was featured on the covers of the games.

Manning made an appearance on Satuday Night Live's sports extra in 2008 in which he was in a children's football scene, and a high school basketball scene. An ESPN This is SportsCenter ad from 2006 features the entire Manning family; parents Archie and Olivia, with their sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper, touring the SportCenter studios with Peyton and Eli engaging in horseplay behind everybody.

He was also featured in one of a series of DirecTV commercials where celebrities are seen in their element, then suddenly begin addressing the viewer. In his commercial they parodied his pre-snap audible routine and known delay in calling for the ball by having him pitch NFL Sunday Ticket instead of changing the play during a blowout game against the Tennessee Titans. Manning also appears in advertisements for St. Mary's Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Manning also hosted Saturday Night Live with musical guest Carrie Underwood on March 24, 2007, his 31st birthday. The episode earned the show's highest household rating in more than 10 months in the metered markets. During his opening, he alluded to his most-marketable status by joking that he had accomplished two of his life goals: his team, the Colts, winning a Super Bowl and his appearance on over half of America's television commercials. On May 27, 2007 Manning waved the green flag to begin the 91st Indianapolis 500.

Shortly after beginning his NFL career, Manning started his own charity, the Peyback Foundation. The Peyback Foundation's mission is to help disadvantaged kids, and focuses its efforts in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Indiana.

On September , 2007, St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis renamed its children's hospital to "Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent." Manning and his wife made a donation of an undisclosed amount to St. Vincent's and have had a relationship with the hospital since his arrival in Indianapolis.

Additionally, Manning has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month three times (9/2003, 11/2004, 10/2006) and Offensive Player of the Week on 19 occasions (18 AFC, 1 NFL/playoff).

Manning holds the post season NFL record rating of 145.7 in a 400 yard game.

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Mark McGwire

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Mark David McGwire (born October 1, 1963) is a former Major League Baseball player who played the majority of his major league career with the Oakland Athletics before finishing his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

For his career, McGwire averaged a home run once every 10.61 at bats, the highest at bats per home run ratio in baseball history (Babe Ruth is second at 11.80). In 1987, he broke the single-season home run record for rookies, with 49. In 1998, McGwire broke the single-season home run record by hitting 70. His mark was surpassed by Barry Bonds who hit 73 in 2001 .

McGwire worked hard on his defense at first base and resisted being seen as a one-dimensional player. He was regarded as a good fielder in his early years, even winning a Gold Glove in 1990. In later years his mobility was reduced, and his defense declined as a result.

McGwire's total of 363 home runs with the Athletics is that franchise's record. He was selected or voted to nine American League All-Star Teams while playing for the A's, including six consecutive appearances from 1987 through 1992.

McGwire's batting average, .289 as a rookie, plummeted over the next three seasons to .260, .231, and .235, respectively. In 1991, he bottomed out with a .201 average and 22 homers. Manager Tony LaRussa sat him out the last game of the season so his average could not dip below .200. Despite the declining batting averages during this time of his career, his high bases on balls totals allowed him to maintain acceptable on-base percentages. In fact, when he hit .201, his adjusted OPS (OPS+) was 103, or just over league average.

McGwire stated in an interview with Sports Illustrated that 1991 was the "worst year" of his life, with his on-field performance and marriage difficulties, and that he "didn't lift a weight" that entire season. With all that behind him, McGwire re-dedicated himself to working out harder than ever and received visual therapy from a sports vision specialist.

He changed his clean-cut look and grew a mullet, a mustache, and a goatee to look more fearsome. The "new look" McGwire hit 42 homers and batted .268 in 1992, with an outstanding OPS+ of 175 (the highest of his career to that point), and put on a home run hitting show at the Home Run Derby during the 1992 All-Star break. His performance propelled the A's to the American League West Division title in 1992, their fourth in five seasons. The A's lost in the playoffs to the eventual World Series champion, the Toronto Blue Jays. Mark smashed a game winning homer in the 9th inning to win the game. But running the bases, hurt his foot.

Foot injuries limited McGwire to a total of 74 games in 1993 and 1994, and just 9 home runs in each of the two seasons. He played just 104 games in 1995, but his proportional totals were much improved: 39 home runs in 317 at-bats. In 1996, McGwire belted a major league leading 52 homers in 423 at-bats. He also hit a career high .312 average, and led the league in both slugging percentage and on base percentage.

In 1997, he hit a major league-leading 58 home runs for the season, but did not lead either league in homers, as he was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 31, when he had hit 34 homers for the A's. It was widely believed that McGwire, in the last year of his contract, would play for the Cardinals only for the remainder of the season, then seek a long-term deal, possibly in Southern California, where he still lives. However, McGwire signed a contract to stay in St. Louis instead. (It is also believed that McGwire encouraged Jim Edmonds, another Southern California resident, who was traded to St. Louis, to sign a contract with the Cardinals.) There was much media speculation as to where Maris' record would be broken in 1998, and a debate as to who would break it, Ken Griffey, Jr. or McGwire.

As the 1998 season progressed, it became clear that McGwire, Griffey, and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa were all on track to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record. The race to break the record first became a media spectacle as the lead swung back and forth. On August 19, Sosa hit his 48th home run to move ahead of McGwire. However, later that day McGwire hit his 48th and 49th home runs to regain the lead. Griffey had injury problems and dropped out of the competition, leaving Sosa and McGwire to battle it out to #62.

On September 8, 1998 at 8:18 p.m. et, McGwire hit a pitch by the Chicago Cubs' Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, setting off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium. The fact that the game was against the Cubs meant that Sosa was able to congratulate McGwire personally on his achievement. Members of Roger Maris' family were also present at the game. Memorably, the ball was freely given to him in a ceremony on the field by the stadium worker who found it.

McGwire finished the 1998 season with 70 home runs, four ahead of Sosa's 66, a record that was broken three seasons later by Barry Bonds. Since Babe Ruth had hit 60 home runs in 154 games during 1927, and Roger Maris hit 61 in 161 games in 1961 (not breaking the record until after the 154 game mark), some had quibbled whether the single-season record was actually broken. With McGwire breaking the record in his team's 145th game, he laid to rest the issue of the extended season.

Although McGwire had the prestige of the home run record, Sammy Sosa (who had fewer HR but more RBI and stolen bases) would win the 1998 NL MVP award, as his contributions helped propel the Cubs to the playoffs (the Cardinals in 1998 finished third in the NL Central). Many credited the Sosa-McGwire home run chase in 1998 with "saving baseball," by both bringing in new, younger fans and bringing back old fans soured by the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.

In 1999, McGwire hit 65 home runs and drove in a league-leading 147 runs while only having 145 hits, the highest RBI-per-hit tally in baseball history. Sammy Sosa again was right on his tail, hitting 63 home runs.

In 2000 and 2001, McGwire had reduced numbers as he played in a reduced amount of games (32-HR in 89 games, and 29-HR in 97 games, respectively).

McGwire ended his career with 583 home runs, which was then fifth-most in history. He led Major League Baseball in home runs five times. He hit 50 or more home runs four seasons in a row (1996-1999), leading Major League Baseball in homers all four seasons, and also shared the MLB lead in home runs in 1987, his rookie year, when he set the Major League record for home runs by a rookie with 49. McGwire had the fewest career triples-- 6-- of any player with 5,000 or more at-bats.

In 1999, the The Sporting News released a list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. The list had been compiled during the 1998 season and included statistics through the 1997 season. McGwire was ranked at Number 91. That year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team (though he received fewer votes than any other selected player). In 2005, The Sporting News published an update of their list and McGwire had been moved up to Number 84.

However, in the 2007 and 2008 balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, McGwire failed to attain election, receiving 128 of the 545 cast, 23.5% of the vote. He received the same exact amount of votes both years. It is widely conceded that this was related to the steroid scandal and McGwire's less than forthcoming testimony (see below).

A portion of Interstate 70 in St. Louis and near Busch Stadium was named "Mark McGwire Highway" to honor his 70 home run achievement, along with his various good works for the city.

Although McGwire has never admitted to or been convicted of any steroid use, many of his accomplishments, particularly his historic home run surge late in his career, have come into question due to his connection to the steroid scandal in Major League Baseball. Despite being under a cloud of suspicion for years, McGwire has repeatedly refused to discuss his involvement, or lack thereof, with steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire was not identified by name in The Mitchell Report, but he has been accused by former teammate Jose Canseco, who said he personally injected McGwire with steroids.

In 1998, after an article written by Associated Press writer Steve Wilstein, McGwire admitted to taking steroid-precursor androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product. Rumors surfaced later that McGwire admitted to the use of androstenedione to throw off the scent of the steroids he was allegedly using. While legal at the time under U.S. law and for use in MLB, it had already been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC.

In 2005, McGwire and Canseco were subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids, along with five other baseball players and four baseball executives. Canseco had released Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, a book in which he spoke positively about steroids, and made various claims—among them, that McGwire had been using performance enhancing drugs since the 1980s. During his testimony on March 17, 2005, McGwire declined to answer questions under oath when he appeared before the House Government Reform Committee.

While no legal action has been taken against McGwire, in baseball or out of it, his testimony cost him public affection and support. In 1999, McGwire was voted to the All-Century Team, and upon his retirement in 2001, he was uniformly characterized as "a future Hall of Famer." However, when his Cooperstown eligibility began in 2006–07, McGwire received less than a quarter of the vote. Several of these sportswriters indicated that they were casting a protest non-vote in McGwire's first year of eligibility, or that they wanted more time to consider the developing steroid story in baseball; some noted that McGwire's relatively low career batting average (.263) and the fact that he did not attain 2,000 hits during his career as deciding factors to abstain. It is unclear where McGwire's true level of ballot support will end up leveling off.

On January 22, 2009, McGwire's brother Jay circulated a book proposal entitled The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth about Steroids, a slugger and Ultimate Redemption. The book proposal alleged that Jay was the one that introduced Mark to steroids in 1994 and was the first one to inject him with Deca-Durabolin. Jay also stated that McGwire used HGH during his baseball career.

McGwire was born in Pomona, California. He attended Damien High School in La Verne, California where he started playing baseball, golf, and basketball. He played college baseball at the University of Southern California under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux.

His brother Dan McGwire was a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins of the NFL in the early 1990s, and was a first round draft choice out of San Diego State University, where he was teammates with Marshall Faulk.

McGwire married Stephanie Slemer, a former pharmaceutical sales representative from the St. Louis area, in Las Vegas on April 20, 2002. They reside in a gated community in Shady Canyon Irvine, California and together created the Mark McGwire Foundation for Children to support agencies that work with children who have been sexually and physically abused to help come to terms with a difficult childhood.

McGwire currently avoids the media. He spends much of his free time playing golf. He is currently working as a hitting coach for Major League players Matt Holliday, Bobby Crosby, Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker.

McGwire appeared on an episode of the sitcom Mad About You, playing a ballplayer infatuated with Helen Hunt's character.

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Barry Bonds

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Barry Lamar Bonds (born July 24, 1964) is a Major League Baseball outfielder who is currently a free agent. He is the son of former major league All-Star Bobby Bonds, godson of Hall of Famer Willie Mays, nephew of 1964 Olympian Rosie Bonds, and a distant cousin of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. He debuted in the Major Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 and joined the San Francisco Giants in 1993, where he stayed through 2007. Bonds filed for free agency following the 2007 World Series.

Bonds' accomplishments place him among the greatest baseball players of all-time. He has a record-setting seven Most Valuable Player awards, including a record-setting four consecutive MVPs. He is a fourteen-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove-winner. He holds numerous Major League Baseball records, including the all-time Major League Baseball home run record with 762 and the single-season Major League record for home runs with 73 (set in 2001), and is also the all-time career leader in both walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688).

Since 2003, Bonds has been a key figure in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) scandal. He was under investigation by a federal grand jury regarding his testimony in the BALCO case, and was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges on November 15, 2007. The indictment alleges that Bonds lied while under oath about his alleged use of steroids.

Born in Riverside, California, Bonds grew up in San Carlos, California and attended Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California and excelled in baseball, basketball and football. As a freshman, he spent the baseball season on the JV team. The next three years—1980 to 1982—he starred on the varsity team. He batted for a .467 batting average his senior year, and was honored as a prep All-American. The Giants drafted Bonds in the second round of the 1982 MLB draft as a high school senior, but the Giants and Bonds were unable to agree on contract terms, so Bonds instead decided to attend college.

Bonds attended Arizona State University, hitting .347 with 45 home runs and 175 runs batted in (RBI). In 1984 he batted .360 and had 30 stolen bases. In 1985 he hit 23 home runs with 66 RBIs and a .368 batting average. He was a Sporting News All-American selection that year. He tied the NCAA record with seven consecutive hits in the College World Series as sophomore and was named to All-Time College World Series Team in 1996. He graduated from Arizona State in 1986 with a degree in criminology. During college, he played part of one summer in the amateur Alaska Baseball League with the Alaska Goldpanners.

Bonds was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (6th overall) of the 1985 Major League Baseball draft. Bonds joined the Prince William Pirates of the Carolina League and was named July 1985 Player of the Month for the league. In 1986, he hit .311 in 44 games for the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League, and he made his major league debut on May 30.

In 1986, Bonds led National League (NL) rookies with 16 home runs, 48 RBI, 36 stolen bases and 65 walks, but he finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting. He hit 25 home runs in his second season, along with 32 stolen bases and 59 RBIs. Bonds improved in 1988, hitting .283 with 24 home runs. Bonds finished with 19 homers, 58 RBIs, and 14 outfield assists, which was 2nd in the NL.

Bonds won his first MVP award in 1990, hitting .301 with 33 home runs and 114 RBIs. His 52 stolen bases were third in the league. He won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. In 1991, Bonds also put up great numbers, hitting 25 homers and driving in 116 runs, and obtained another Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He finished second to the Atlanta Braves' Terry Pendleton (the NL batting champion) in the MVP voting. The next season, Bonds won his second MVP award. He dominated the NL, hitting .311 with 34 homers and 103 RBIs, and propelling the Pirates to their third straight National League East division title. However, Pittsburgh was defeated by the Braves in a seven-game National League Championship Series. Bonds was involved in the final play of Game 7 of the NLCS, where he fielded a base hit by Francisco Cabrera and attempted to throw out Sid Bream at home plate. But the throw to Pirates catcher Mike LaValliere was late and Bream scored the winning run. For the third consecutive season, the NL East Champion Pirates were denied a trip to the World Series.

In 1993, Bonds left the Pirates to sign a lucrative free agent contract worth a then-record $43.75 million over 6 years with the Giants, with whom his father spent the first 7 years of his career, and with whom his godfather Willie Mays played 22 of his 24 Major League seasons. The deal was at that time the largest in baseball history, in terms of both total value and average annual salary. To honor his father, Bonds switched his jersey number to 25 once he signed with the Giants, as it had been Bobby's number in San Francisco. (His number during most of his stay with the Pirates, 24, was retired in honor of Mays anyway). Bonds hit .336 in 1993, leading the league with 46 home runs and 123 RBI en route to his second consecutive MVP award, and third overall. As good as the Giants were (winning 103 games), the Atlanta Braves won 104 in what some call the last great pennant race (due to the Wild Card being instituted shortly after).

In the strike-shortened season of 1994, Bonds hit .312 with 37 home runs and a league-leading 74 walks, and he finished 4th in MVP voting. In 1995, Bonds hit 33 homers and drove in 104 runs, hitting .294 but finished only 12th in MVP voting.

In 1996, Bonds became the first National League player and second (of the current list of four) major league player(s) to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. The other members of the 40-40 club are José Canseco—1988, Alex Rodriguez—1998, and Alfonso Soriano—2006; his father Bobby Bonds was one home run short in 1973 when he hit 39 home runs and stole 43 bases. Bonds drove in 129 runs with a .308 average and walked a then-National League record 151 times. During the 1996 season Bonds became the 4th player in history to steal 300 bases and hit 300 home runs for a career, joining Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Bobby Bonds in the 300-300 club, but he only finished fifth in the MVP balloting. In 1997 Bonds hit .291, his lowest average since 1989. He hit 40 home runs for the second straight year and drove in 101 runs, leading the league in walks again with 145. He tied his father in 1997 for having the most 30/30 seasons, and he again placed fifth in the MVP balloting.

In 1998, he hit .303 with 37 home runs and drove in 122 runs, winning his eighth Gold Glove, and became the first player ever to enter the 400-400 club by having career totals of 400 home runs and 400 stolen bases. With two outs in the 9th inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 28, 1998, Bonds became only the fifth player in baseball history to be given an intentional walk with the bases loaded. Nap Lajoie (1901), Del Bissonette (1928) and Bill Nicholson (1944) were three others in the 20th century who received that rare honor; however Abner Dalrymple was the first to receive one in 1881. Bonds finished 8th in the MVP voting.

In 2000, the following year, Bonds hit .306 with a slugging percentage of .688 (career best at that time) and hit 49 home runs in just 143 games (also a career high to that point), while drawing a league-leading 117 walks.

The next year, Bonds' offensive production reached even higher levels, breaking not only his own personal records but several major league records. In the Giants' first 50 games in 2001, Bonds hit 28 home runs, including 17 in May—a career high. He also hit 39 home runs by the All-star break (a major league record), drew a major league record 177 walks, and had a .515 on-base average, a feat not seen since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams over forty years earlier. Bonds' slugging percentage was a major league record .863 (411 total bases in 476 at-bats), and, most impressively, he ended the season with a major league record 73 home runs.

Bonds re-signed with the Giants for a five-year, $90 million contract in January 2002. That year, he hit 46 home runs in 403 at-bats. He won the NL batting title with a career-high .370 average and struck out only 47 times. Despite playing in nine fewer games than the previous season, he drew 198 walks, a major-league record, 68 of them intentional. He slugged .799, then the fourth-highest total all time. Bonds broke Ted Williams' major league record for on-base average with .582. Bonds also hit his 600th home run, less than a year and a half after hitting his 500th.

In 2003, Bonds played in just 130 games. He hit 45 home runs in just 390 at-bats, along with a .341 batting average. He slugged .749, walked 148 times, and had an on-base average well over .500 (.529) for the third straight year. He also became the only member of the career 500 home run/500 stolen base club.

In 2004, Bonds had perhaps his best season. He hit .362 en route to his second National League batting title, and broke his own record by walking 232 times. He slugged .812, which was fourth-highest of all time, and broke his on-base percentage record with a .609 average. Bonds passed Mays on the career home run list, hitting his 700th near the end of the season. Bonds hit 45 home runs in 373 at-bats, and struck out just 41 times, putting himself in elite company, as few major leaguers have ever had more home runs than strikeouts in a season. Bonds would win his fourth consecutive MVP award and his seventh overall. His seven MVP awards are four more than any other player in history. In addition, no other player from either league has been awarded the MVP four times in a row. (The MVP award was first given in 1931). On July 4, 2004 he tied and passed Rickey Henderson's career bases on balls record with his 2190th and 2191st career walks..

As Bonds neared Aaron's record, Aaron was called on for his opinion of Bonds. He clarified that he was a fan and admirer of Bonds and avoided the controversy regarding whether the record should be denoted with an asterisk due Bonds' to alleged steroid usage. He felt recognition and respect for the award was something to be determined by the fans. As the steroid controversy received greater media attention during the offseason before the 2005 season, Aaron expressed some reservations about the statements Bonds made on the issue. Aaron expressed that he felt drug and steroid use to boost athletic performance was inappropriate. Aaron was frustrated that the media could not focus on events that occurred in the field of play and wished drugs or gambling allegations such as those associated with Pete Rose could be emphasized less. In 2007, Aaron felt the whole steroid use issue was very controversial and decided that he would not attend any possible record-breaking games. Aaron congratulated Bonds through the media when Bonds broke Aaron's record.

Bonds' salary for the 2005 season was $22 million, the second-highest salary in Major League Baseball (the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez earned the highest, $25.2 million). Bonds endured a knee injury, multiple surgeries, and rehabilitation. He was activated on September 12, 2005, and started in left field. In his return against the San Diego Padres, he nearly hit a home run in his first at-bat. Bonds finished the night 1-for-4. Upon his return, Bonds resumed his high-caliber performance at the plate, hitting home runs in four consecutive games from September 18, 2005 to September 21, 2005 and finishing with five homers in only 14 games.

In 2006, Bonds earned $20 million (not including bonuses), the fourth highest salary in baseball. Through the 2006 season he had earned approximately $172 million during his then 21-year career, making him baseball's all-time highest paid player. Bonds hit under .200 for his first 10 games of the season and did not hit a home run until April 22, 2006. This 10-game stretch was his longest home run slump since the 1998 season. On May 7, 2006, Bonds drew within one home run of tying Babe Ruth for second place on the all time list, hitting his 713th career home run into the second level of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, off pitcher Jon Lieber in an ESPN nationally-televised game in which the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. The towering home run—one of the longest in Citizens Bank Park's two-season history, traveling an estimated 450 feet (140 m)—hit off the facade of the third deck in right field.

Then, on May 20, 2006, Bonds tied Ruth, hitting his 714th career home run to deep right field to lead off the top of the 2nd inning. The home run came off left-handed pitcher Brad Halsey of the Oakland A's, in an interleague game played in Oakland, California. Since this was an interleague game at an American League stadium, Bonds was batting as the designated hitter in the lineup for the Giants. Bonds was quoted after the game as being "glad it's over with" and stated that more attention could be focused on Albert Pujols, who was on a very rapid home run pace in early 2006.

On May 28, 2006, Bonds passed Ruth, hitting his 715th career home run to center field off Colorado Rockies pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim. The ball was hit an estimated 445 feet (140 m) into center field where it went through the hands of several fans but then fell onto an elevated platform in center field. Then it rolled off the platform where Andrew Morbitzer, a 38-year-old San Francisco resident, caught the ball while he was in line at a concession stand. Mysteriously, radio broadcaster Dave Flemming's radio play-by-play of the home run went silent just as the ball was hit, apparently from a microphone failure. But the televised version, called by Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, was not affected.

On September 22, 2006, Bonds tied Henry Aaron's National League career home run record of 733. The home run came in the top of the 6th inning of a high-scoring game against the Milwaukee Brewers, at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The achievement was notable for its occurrence in the very city where Aaron began (with the Milwaukee Braves) and concluded (with the Brewers, then in the American League) his career. With the Giants trailing 10–8, Bonds hit a blast to deep center field on a 2–0 pitch off the Brewers' Chris Spurling with runners on first and second and one out. Though the Giants were at the time clinging to only a slim chance of making the playoffs, Bonds' home run provided the additional drama of giving the Giants an 11–10 lead late in a critical game in the final days of a pennant race. The Brewers eventually won the game, 13–12, despite Bonds' going 3 for 5, with 2 doubles, the record-tying home run, and 6 runs batted in.

On the following day, September 23, 2006, Bonds surpassed Aaron for the NL career home run record. Hit in Milwaukee like the previous one, this was a solo home run off Chris Capuano of the Brewers. This was the last home run Bonds hit in 2006. In 2006, Bonds recorded his lowest slugging percentage (a statistic that he has historically ranked among league leaders season after season) since 1991 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In January 2007, the New York Daily News reported that Bonds had tested positive for amphetamines. Under baseball's amphetamine policy, which had been in effect for one season, players testing positive were to submit to six additional tests and undergo treatment and counseling. The policy also stated that players were not to be identified for a first positive test, but the New York Daily News leaked the test's results. When the Players Association informed Bonds of the test results, he initially attributed it to a substance he had taken from the locker of Giants teammate Mark Sweeney, but would later retract this claim and publicly apologize to Sweeney.

On January 29, 2007, the Giants finalized a contract with Bonds for the 2007 season. After the commissioner's office rejected Bonds's one-year, $15.8 million deal because it contained a personal-appearance provision, the team sent revised documents to his agent, Jeff Borris, who stated that "At this time, Barry is not signing the new documents." Bonds signed a revised one-year, $15.8 million contract on February 15, 2007, and reported to the Giants' Spring Training camp on time.

Bonds resumed his march to the all-time record early in the 2007 season. After an opening game in which all he had was a first-inning single past third base against a right-shifted infield (immediately followed by a stolen base and then a base-running misjudgment that got him thrown out at home) and a deep out to left field late in the game, Bonds returned the next day, April 4, 2007, with another mission. In his first at-bat of the season's second game at the Giants' AT&T Park, Bonds hit a Chris Young (of the San Diego Padres) pitch just over the wall to the left of straightaway center field for career home run 735. This home run put Bonds past the midway point between Ruth and Aaron.

Bonds did not homer again until April 13, 2007 when he hit two (736 and 737) in a 3 for 3 night that included 4 RBI against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Home runs number 739 and 740 came in back to back games on April 21, 2007 and April 22, 2007 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The hype surrounding Bonds' pursuit of the home run record escalated on May 14, 2007. On this day, Sports Auction for Heritage (a Dallas-based auction house) offered US$1 million to the fan that caught Bonds' record-breaking 756th-career home run. The million dollar offer was rescinded on June 11, 2007 out of concern of fan safety. On that same day, Bonds launched home run 747, ending the relative drought of the previous month. This one came off Josh Towers of the Toronto Blue Jays, and landed in AT&T Park's right center field stands. His next home run, 748, came on Father's Day, June 17, 2007, in the final game of a 3-game road series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, where Bonds had never previously played. With this homer, Fenway Park became the 36th major league ballpark in which Bonds had hit a home run. He hit a Tim Wakefield knuckleball just over the low fence into the Giant's bullpen in right field. It was his first home run off his former Pittsburgh Pirate teammate, who became the 441st different pitcher to surrender a four-bagger to Bonds. The 750th career home run, hit on June 29, 2007, also came off a former teammate: Liván Hernández. The blast came in the 8th inning and at that point tied the game at 3–3.

On July 19, 2007, after a 21 at-bat hitless streak, Bonds hit 2 home runs, numbers 752 and 753 against the Chicago Cubs. He went 3–3 with 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, and a walk on that day. The struggling last place Giants still lost the game 9–8. On July 27, 2007, Bonds hit home run 754 against Florida Marlins pitcher Rick VandenHurk. Bonds was then walked his next 4 at bats in the game, but 2-run shot helped the Giants win the game 12–10. It marked the first game Bonds had homered in that the Giants won since he had hit #747. On August 4, 2007, Bonds hit a 382 foot (116 m) home run against Clay Hensley of the San Diego Padres for home run number 755, tying Hank Aaron's all-time record. Bonds greeted his son, Nikolai, with an extended bear hug after crossing home plate. Bonds greeted his teammates and then his wife, Liz Watson, and daughter Aisha Lynn behind the backstop. Hensley was the 445th different pitcher to give up a home run to Bonds. Ironically, given the cloud of suspicion that surrounded Bonds, the tying home run was hit off a pitcher who'd been suspended by baseball in 2005 for steroid use. He was walked in his next at bat and eventually scored on a fielder's choice.

On August 7, 2007 at 8:51 PM PDT, Bonds hit a 435 foot (133 m) home run, his 756th, off a pitch from Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, breaking the all-time career home run record, formerly held by Hank Aaron. Coincidentally, Bacsik's father had faced Aaron (as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers) after Aaron had hit his 755th home run. On August 23, 1976, Michael J. Bacsik held Aaron to a single and a fly out to right field. The younger Bacsik commented later, "If my dad had been gracious enough to let Hank Aaron hit a home run, we both would have given up 756." After hitting the home run, Bonds gave Bacsik an autographed bat.

The pitch, the seventh of the at-bat, was a 3–2 pitch which Bonds hit into the right-center field bleachers. The fan who ended up with the ball, 22-year-old Matt Murphy from Queens, New York (and a Met fan), was promptly protected and escorted away from the mayhem by a group of San Francisco police officers. After Bonds finished his home run trot, a ten-minute delay followed, including a brief video by Aaron congratulating Bonds on breaking the record Aaron had held for 33 years, and expressing the hope that "the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams." Bonds made an impromptu emotional statement on the field, with Willie Mays, his godfather, at his side and thanked his teammates, family and his late father. Bonds sat out the rest of the game and was replaced in left field.

The commissioner, Bud Selig, was not in attendance in this game but was represented by the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Jimmie Lee Solomon. Selig called Bonds later that night to congratulate him on breaking the record. President George W. Bush also called Bonds the next day to congratulate him. On August 24, 2007, San Francisco honored and celebrated Bonds' career accomplishments and breaking the home run record with a large rally in Justin Herman Plaza. The rally included video messages from Lou Brock, Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith, Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan. Speeches were made by Willie Mays, Giants teammates Omar Vizquel and Rich Aurilia, and Giants owner Peter Magowan. Mayor Gavin Newsom presented Bonds the key to the City and County of San Francisco and Giants vice president Larry Baer gave Bonds the home plate he touched after hitting his 756th career home run.

Bonds concluded the 2007 season with a .276 batting average, 28 home runs, and 66 RBIs in 126 games and 340 at bats. At the age of 43, he led both leagues in walks with 132.

There was much speculation before the 2008 season about where Bonds might play. However, no one signed him during the 2008 season — and as of the end of the 2008 calendar year, he was also without a contract for the upcoming 2009 season. If he ever returns to Major League Baseball, Bonds would be within close range of several significant hitting milestones: he needs just 65 hits to reach 3,000, 4 runs batted in to reach 2,000, and 38 home runs to reach 800. He needs 69 more runs scored to move past Rickey Henderson as the all-time runs champion, and 37 extra base hits to move past Hank Aaron as the all-time extra base hits champion.

In 2003, Bonds became embroiled in a scandal when Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), Bonds' trainer since 2000, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including a number of baseball players. This led to speculation that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs during a time when there was no mandatory testing in Major League Baseball. Bonds declared his innocence, attributing his changed physique and increased power to a strict regimen of bodybuilding, diet and legitimate supplements.

During grand jury testimony on December 4, 2003, Bonds said that he used a clear substance and a cream that he received from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, who told him they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis. This testimony, as reported by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, has frequently been misrepresented. Later reports on Bonds's leaked grand-jury testimony contend that he admitted to unknowingly using "the cream" and "the clear".

In July 2005, all four defendants in the BALCO steroid scandal trial, including Anderson, struck deals with federal prosecutors that did not require them to reveal names of athletes who may have used banned drugs.

Bonds withdrew from the MLB Players Association's (MLBPA) licensing agreement because he felt independent marketing deals would be more lucrative for him. Bonds is the first player in the thirty-year history of the licensing program not to sign. Because of this withdrawal, his name and likeness are not usable in any merchandise licensed by the MLBPA. In order to use his name or likeness, a company must deal directly with Bonds. For this reason he does not appear in some baseball video games, forcing game-makers to create generic athletes to replace him. For example, Bonds is replaced by "Jon Dowd" in MVP Baseball 2005.

In March, 2006 the book Game of Shadows, written by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, was released amid a storm of media publicity including the cover of Sports Illustrated. Initially small excerpts of the book were released by the authors in the issue of Sports Illustrated. The book alleges Bonds used stanozolol and a host of other steroids, and is perhaps most responsible for the change in public opinion regarding Bonds' steroid use.

The book contained excerpts of grand jury testimony that is supposed to be sealed and confidential by law. The authors have been steadfast in their refusal to divulge their sources, and at one point faced jail time. On February 14, 2007, Troy Ellerman, one of Victor Conte's lawyers, pled guilty to leaking grand jury testimony. Through the plea agreement, he will spend two and a half years in jail.

In May 2006, former Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman released a scathing biography of Bonds entitled Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero. The book also contained many allegations against Bonds. The book, which describes Bonds as a polarizing insufferable braggart with a legendary ego and staggering ability, relied on over five hundred interviews.

On November 15, 2007, Bonds was indicted for both four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice as it relates to the government investigation of BALCO.

On February 14, 2008 a typo in court papers filed by Federal prosecutors erroneously alleged that Bonds tested positive for steroids in November, 2001, a month after hitting his record 73rd home run. The reference was meant instead to refer to a November 2000 test that had already been disclosed and previously reported. The typo sparked a brief media frenzy.

His trial for obstruction of justice is to begin on March 2, 2009. Bonds is not expected to get prison time should he be convicted after a pro cyclist facing similar charges in the case was given house arrest and probation instead of jail time.

In April 2006 and May 2006, ESPN aired a few episodes of a 10-part reality TV (unscripted, documentary-style) series starring Bonds. The show, titled Bonds on Bonds, focused on Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's home run records. Some felt the show should be put on hiatus until baseball investigated Bonds' steroid use allegations. The series was canceled in June 2006, ESPN and producer Tollin/Robbins Productions citing "creative control" issues with Bonds and his representatives.

Bonds met Susann ("Sun") Margreth Branco, the mother of his first two children, in Montreal, Quebec in August 1987. They eloped in Las Vegas, Nevada February 5, 1988. They had two children (Nikolai and Shikari) and separated in June 1994, divorced in December 1994 and had their marriage annulled in 1997 by the Catholic Church. The divorce was a media affair because Bonds had his Swedish spouse sign a prenuptial agreement in which she "waived her right to a share of his present and future earnings" and which was upheld. Bonds had been providing his wife $20,000/month in child support and $10,000 in spousal support at the time of the ruling. During the hearings to set permanent support levels, allegations of abuse came from both parties. The trial dragged on for months, but Bonds was awarded both houses and reduced support. Nikolai was a batboy for the Giants and always sat next to his dad in the dugout during games.

Bonds remarried on January 10, 1998 in the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton Hotel in front of 240 guests. Bonds lives in Los Altos Hills, California, with his second wife, Liz Watson, and their daughter Aisha. He also owns a home in the exclusive gated community of Beverly Park in Beverly Hills, CA.

Bonds also had an extensive intimate relationship with Kimberly Bell from 1994 through May, 2003. Bonds purchased a home in Scottsdale, Arizona for Kimberly.

Bonds has an older brother, Bobby, Jr. who was a professional baseball player. His paternal aunt, Rosie Bonds, is a former American record holder in the 80 meter hurdles, and she competed in the 1964 Olympics. He is a distant cousin of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.

Besides holding Major League career records in home runs (762), walks (2,558), and intentional walks (688), Bonds also leads all active players in RBI (1,996), on-base percentage (.444), runs (2,227), games (2,986), extra-base hits (1,440), at-bats per home run (12.92), and total bases (5,976). He is 2nd in doubles (601), slugging percentage (.607), stolen bases (514), at-bats (9,847), and hits (2,935), 6th in triples (77), 8th in sacrifice flies (91), and 9th in strikeouts (1,539), through September 26, 2007.

Bonds is the lone member of the 500–500 club, which means he has hit at least 500 home runs (762) and stolen 500 bases (514). He is also one of only four baseball players all-time to be in the 40–40 club (1996), which means he hit 40 home runs (42) and stole 40 bases (40) in the same season; the other members are José Canseco, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano.

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Albert Pujols

Pujols at the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (pronounced ) (born January 16, 1980, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), (nicknamed Prince Albert, Sir Albert, Phat Albert, El Hombre, and The Machine) is a Major League Baseball first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the game today and was voted the Most Feared Hitter in Baseball in a poll of all 30 big-league managers in 2008.

As of the end of the 2008 season, he leads active players in batting average (.334) and slugging percentage (.624).

After just eight seasons of play, he ranked 98th in career home runs among all current and past major-leaguers. On July 4, 2008, Pujols hit his 300th career home run, becoming the fifth-youngest player (28 yrs., 170 days) in MLB history to reach that milestone.

He is 6' 3" and weighs 230 pounds.

Born on January 16, 1980, Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo by his grandmother. When Pujols was a young boy, he would show his father Bienvenido's passion for baseball by going to dirt fields to play. His favorite player in the majors was Julio Franco. Pujols and his family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996, first to New York City. In New York, the Pujols family realized that the Big Apple was not a place they wanted to live. One day, Albert had seen a man shot to death while running an errand. His grandmother demanded that they move to somewhere safe. They then settled in a Dominican enclave in the Independence, Missouri area. In the U.S., Pujols displayed his love for baseball, batting over .500 in his first season of baseball at Fort Osage High School in Independence. He hit .660 with eight home runs his final year of high school. At Fort Osage, Pujols earned all-state honors in baseball twice. After starring for Fort Osage, Pujols graduated from high school in December 1998. He went on to attend Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas City area during the spring of 1999. In his only season with the community college, Pujols hit a grand slam and turned an unassisted triple play in his first game. He batted .461 for the year.

Few big league teams were very interested in Pujols. A Colorado Rockies scout reported favorably about the young hitter, but the club took no action. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays arranged a tryout for Pujols, but it went poorly (after the team did not draft him, the scout who had found Pujols resigned). The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Pujols in the 13th round of the 1999 draft with the 402nd overall pick. However, Pujols initially turned down a USD $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansas instead. By the end of the summer of 1999, the Cardinals increased their bonus offer to $70,000, and Pujols signed with the team. He was assigned to the minor leagues.

In 2000, Pujols played for the Peoria Chiefs of the single-A Midwest League, where he was voted league MVP. Pujols quickly progressed through the ranks of the St. Louis farm clubs, first at the Potomac Cannons in the high-A Carolina League and then with the Memphis Redbirds in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

During spring training in 2001, the Cardinals were preparing for Pujols to be sent to Memphis, the team's AAA affiliate. However, his outstanding play, combined with Bobby Bonilla's hamstring injury (at the time the starting 3B for the Cardinals) allowed Pujols the opportunity to start the season for the big league St. Louis Cardinals.

In the season's second series, playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pujols hit a home run, three doubles and eight RBI, securing his spot on the team. In May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month. In June, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game by NL manager Bobby Valentine, the first Cardinal rookie selected since 1955. Pujols' phenomenal rookie season helped the Cardinals tie for the National League Central Division title. For the season, Pujols batted .329/.403/.610 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, and was unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year. His 37 home runs were one short of the National League rookie record of 38, held by Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves and Frank Robinson of the 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs. His 130 RBI set an NL rookie record.

In 2002, Pujols struggled early on, but continued to bat extremely well throughout the season, hitting .314/.394/.561 with 34 homers and 127 RBI. The team finished first in the NL Central during a difficult 2002 season. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship series. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting behind Barry Bonds.

In the 2003 season, Pujols had one of the best individual offensive seasons in Cardinals history, batting .359/.439/.667 with 43 home runs and 124 RBI. He won the National League batting title while also leading the league in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits and total bases. At 23, Pujols became the youngest NL batting champion since 1962 and joined Rogers Hornsby as the only players in Cardinals history to record 40+ homers and 200+ hits in the same season. The Cardinals, however, failed to make the playoffs, faltering in the stretch to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting to Barry Bonds for the second straight year and had a 30-game hitting streak.

Pujols started his major league career playing primarily as a third baseman. During his rookie season, he started at four different positions (1B, 3B, LF and RF), and has also appeared at 2B (late in the 2001 All-Star game as well as a regular season game in April 2008) and SS (late in one 2002 regular season game). When Scott Rolen joined the team in 2002, Pujols was moved to left field. Following an injury scare in 2003, Pujols was moved to his current position at first base.

Pujols signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension with a $16 million club option for 2011 on February 20, 2004. He received a full no-trade clause for 2004-2006, and a limited no-trade clause for the remainder of the deal.

Throughout the year, Pujols was nagged by plantar fasciitis, but was still a powerful hitter, hitting .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI. Pujols, along with teammates Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, earned the nickname MV3 for their phenomenal 2004 seasons. In addition, Pujols was chosen to appear on the cover of EA Sports' video game, MVP Baseball 2004. He was also the MVP of the 2004 National League Championship Series, helping his team reach the World Series, where they were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

The 2005 season saw Pujols establish career highs in walks and stolen bases, while leading his team in almost every offensive category. He finished batting .330/.430/.609, with 41 home runs (including his 200th career homer), 117 RBI, 97 walks, and 16 stolen bases (leading all major league first basemen). His performance in 2005 earned him the National League Most Valuable Player award.

In 2005, John Dewan noted in The Fielding Bible that no first baseman was better at digging balls out of the dirt than Pujols. Pujols saved 42 bad throws by his fielders in 2005 (Derrek Lee was second with 23). At the same time, Pujols shared the major league lead in errors for a first baseman, with 14.

Pujols set the record for the most home runs hit in the first month of the season, at 14, on April 29, 2006. The record was tied by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees in 2007. On June 3, 2006, Pujols suffered an oblique strain chasing a foul pop fly off the bat of Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He was later placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career on June 4 – June 21, missing 15 games. Pujols, at the time of his injury, had 25 home runs and 65 RBI and was on pace to break the single-season records held by Barry Bonds (73 HRs) and Hack Wilson (191 RBI). He returned in time to help the Cardinals win the NL Central. He started at first base for the 2006 National League All-Star team. Pujols finished the season with a .331/.431/.671 line, establishing new career-highs in slugging percentage (in which he led the majors), home runs (49)(second) and RBIs (137) (second). In the 2006 National League MVP voting, he came in a close second to Ryan Howard, garnering 12 of 32 first-place votes.

After appearing in the playoffs with the Cardinals in four of his first five years in the big leagues but falling short each time, Pujols won his first championship ring when the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers four games to one.

After the 2006 season Pujols' defensive improvements were recognized as he was given the Gold Glove award. He had the highest range factor among first basemen in his two full seasons at the position, and led the National League in that category in 2006; emblematic was the sprawling, flip-from-his-back playPujols made to rob Plácido Polanco of a hit in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the World Series.

Pujols had a slower start in the spring than in previous years due to several injuries in his right elbow. Following the All-Star Break, he hit four home runs in his first three games back. Pujols was also awarded the Player of the Week honors on July 15 after going 9-for-15 with a 1.357 slugging percentage and 19 total bases, all while batting .429.

He hit his 25th home run on August 15, making him the fifth player to hit 25 home runs in his first seven seasons in the major leagues, and the first since Darryl Strawberry. On August 22, he hit his 30th home run of the season, becoming the first major league player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 7 seasons. It was his fifth consecutive game with a home run, tying the Cardinals' single-season record. He finished August batting .317, slugging .558 with 30 home runs and 84 runs batted in, while still sporting an excellent .416 on-base percentage despite his slower-than-usual start in April.

In a pre-game warmup on the field before a September 18 game at home, Pujols suffered a strained calf muscle in his left leg and was not able to start or appear later in the game. In September, he hit two home runs for a total of 32, the last one giving him 16 RBI for the month, and 100 RBI for the seventh consecutive year to become only the third player to accomplish the feat at the start of his career.

Pujols won the Fielding Bible Award in 2007 for his defensive excellence at first base.

Pujols reached another milestone early in the season when he hit his 300th career double in April 2008. For the month of April, he reached base safely (via hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) in all 29 team games played, starting on April 1. His streak eventually reached 42 games, ending on May 16. It was the longest streak in baseball since Derek Jeter's 53-game streak in 1999.

On May 22 Pujols was involved in causing injuries to two players on the San Diego Padres within the same inning. In the third inning, he lined a pitch by Padres starting pitcher Chris Young into Young's face, breaking his nose and forcing him to leave the game. Later, as Pujols tried to score on a single by Troy Glaus, he slid into catcher Josh Bard, spraining Bard's ankle and forcing him to leave the game as well.

On June 10 Pujols strained his left-calf muscle and went on the 15-day disabled list for the second time in his eight-year career. He was re-activated on June 26 after missing 13 games.

On July 4 against the Chicago Cubs, Pujols hit his 300th career home run. He was the fifth youngest player to reach the mark.

On Monday, August 25, Albert won the NL Player of the Week award (Aug. 18-24) for the seventh time in his career after batting .579 (11-for-19) with a .652 on-base percentage, a 1.105 slugging percentage, and 10 RBIs.

Pujols had his 1,500th career hit on August 30 against the Houston Astros. On September 1, Pujols hit his 30th home run of the season off of Randy Johnson to start his career with eight consecutive 30 HR seasons, the first player to do so in MLB history.

Pujols hit his 100th RBI on Thursday, September 11 off Rich Harden (also Pujols' 40th double of the season) to become the first player in MLB history to start his career with eight seasons of at least 30 HR, 100 RBIs, a .300 BA and 99 runs. He also finished with a league-leading .296 Isolated Power (ISO) average.

On October 13, Pujols elected to have surgery on his troubled right elbow, "a procedure that included decompression and transposition of the ulnar nerve" but not the more invasive Tommy John surgery to relieve persistent pain. He has played through varying degrees of discomfort with it since 2003.

On October 21, Albert was named Players Choice National League Outstanding Player of the Year, beating out the other finalists, Chipper Jones (ATL), Ryan Braun (MIL), Manny Ramirez (LAD), and Ryan Howard (PHI). The Players Choice Awards are voted on by every member of the Major League Baseball Players Association (the players' union) and include several categories; Albert was NL Outstanding Rookie of the Year in 2001, both NL Outstanding Player and (overall) Player of the Year in 2003, and Marvin Miller Award winner (for "charitable accomplishments off the field") in 2006.

Three days later, on October 24, Albert was named Players Choice Player of the Year; the two other finalists were Cliff Lee (Cleveland Indians) and Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox-Los Angeles Dodgers). This is Albert's second Player of the Year Award, having also won in 2003; he joins Alex Rodriguez (2002, 2007) and Barry Bonds (2001, 2004) as two-time winners (this honor was added to the Players Choice Awards in 1998). This same day Michael Young of the Texas Rangers was announced as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year; this Players Choice award had one finalist from every MLB division, with Albert representing the NL Central.

On October 22, Albert had been named The Sporting News Player of the Year (not to be confused with the Players Choice Player of the Year award). Albert was also the SN Player of the Year in 2003.

On October 25, Albert was named the 2008 winner of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team.

On October 30, Albert won the Fielding Bible Award for defensive excellence at first base for the third consecutive year (2006-08). He is the only player to win this award all three years of its existence. Gold Gloves are voted on by MLB managers and coaches, but the Fielding Bible Awards are determined by a panel of 10 experts in advanced statistical analysis. Also, one Gold Glove is awarded for each position in each league (18 total), whereas one Fielding Bible Award is given each position, period (9 total). In announcing Albert's 2006 win, the award webpage noted, "It's amazing to think that the best hitter of this generation is also the best fielding player at his position." The 2008 vote was close, though, with 5 first-place votes going to Albert and 4 to Mark Teixeira (ATL-LAA).

On November 5, for the 3rd time in 4 years, Albert was named NL Most Valuable Player in the annual Internet Baseball Awards, a poll conducted by Baseball Prospectus. Albert "has received a higher average level of support from the voters than any other player in the history of the voting," finishing # 4, 4, 2, 2, 1, 1, 7, and 1 in his 8 major league seasons.

On November 13, Albert won his fourth Silver Slugger--being voted the top-producing NL first-baseman--having previously won one at each of three positions: 3B in 2001, OF in 2003, and 1B in 2004.

On November 17, Albert won his second NL MVP Award. The honor is given according to pre-playoff voting by 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, 2 in each of the 16 NL cities. Pujols received 18 first-place votes and 369 total points. Second in both categories, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies snagged 12 firsts and 308 points. (Philly Brad Lidge got the 2 other firsts and came in eighth overall, behind Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman, CC Sabathia, and David Wright.) Besides his 18 first-place votes, Pujols received 10 for second place, 2 for third place, 1 for fourth place, and 1 for seventh place. Albert was the 2005 NL MVP and has finished in the top nine in the BBWAA voting every year in his 8-year career: fourth in 2001, second in 2002, second again, third, first, second in 2006 (to Howard), ninth, and now first again.

On December 15, he won TYIB's 'Hitter of the Year' Award.

On February 15, he confirmed he would not play in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republic, because of insurance issues relating to his off-season right elbow surgery in October 2008.

On March 2, it was confirmed he decided not to participate in a Cardinals' exhibition game (March 5) against his native country Dominican Republic (Roster).

Pujols married his wife, Deidre, on January 1, 2000. They have three children, Isabella (Deidre's daughter, adopted by Albert), Albert Jr., and Sophia. Albert and his wife are active in the cause of people with Down syndrome, as Isabella was born with this condition. He has taken part-ownership in Patrick's Restaurant in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The remodeled restaurant was re-opened as Pujols 5 on August 30, 2006.

Pujols is close friends with second baseman Plácido Polanco, a former teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is godfather to Polanco's 3-year-old son, Ismael. Polanco played for the 2006 Detroit Tigers team that lost to the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series.

On February 7, 2007, Pujols became a U.S. citizen, scoring a perfect 100 on his citizenship test.

On April 24, 2007, Upper Deck Authenticated announced it had signed Pujols to an exclusive autographed memorabilia agreement.

On November 18, 2008, Pujols agreed to help bring a MLS franchise to St. Louis by using his reputation and a large financial investment.

In 2005, Albert and Diedre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation, which is dedicated to "the love, care and development of people with Down syndrome and their families," as well as helping the poor in the Dominican Republic. Pujols has taken several trips to the Dominican, by taking supplies as well as a team of doctors and dentists to the poor who need medical care. The Pujols Family Foundation also holds an annual golf tournament in which members from the Cardinals and other people play golf to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican Republic.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through 2008.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through 2008.

YEAR (bold) = Selected as Starter * Was selected, but did not play in the game.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through 2008.

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Source : Wikipedia