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Slugger Barry Bonds runs after a fly ball in left field during his final home game with the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday during action against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. (Ron Lewis/Staff)
SAN FRANCISCO -- There were no pregame speeches delivered Wednesday night at AT&T Park, neither by Barry Bonds nor any other Giants great, past or present.

There was no on-field ceremony with the Willies -- Mays and McCovey. And there were certainly no shiny parting gifts.

There was no formal pregame Bonds news conference, just a few whispered answers to questions at his locker, where he revealed that Wednesday night's game against the San Diego Padres would be his final game as a Giant.

Instead of pomp and circumstance, there were video tributes to Bonds -- before, during and after the game -- and highlights of Bonds' greatest blasts as he chased, caught and passed Hank Aaron.

Sure, Bonds' name and jersey number were painted on the left field grass, and the Giants passed out "Thanks Barry" signs to fans as they entered AT&T.

But when it comes to Bonds tributes, this was pure understatement.

It's not easy saying goodbye to superstars -- in any sport. The examples of uncomfortable partings include Mays, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Babe Ruth, to name a few.

Now you can add Bonds to the list.

You can imagine the awkwardness involved when you basically fire your superstar, as the Giants understandably did, and he just happens to be baseball's home run king, a seven-time National League MVP and the face of your franchise for the past 15 seasons.

This was no time to go over the top, as Bonds and the Giants clearly understood.


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"We've done so many ceremonies over the years," Giants executive vice president Larry Baer said before the game. "This should be different. We've done 500 (home runs), 600, 700, 660, 661, 715, 756. ... You almost get to the point where you just sort of say, 'Let's let everybody take a deep breath, sit back and relive 15 years in our own way.'

"No speeches. No plaques dedicated, no hardware handed, no cars rolled onto the field, but just more of a chance to reminisce a little bit and flash back to a lot of thrills."

Yeah, we get it.

When the Giants told Bonds late last week that they would not re-sign him for 2008, he wrote on his Web site that he wished they had told him earlier, giving him more time to say goodbye to his fans.

Bonds later said he wasn't angry with the team, just confused, saying, "If you bring value to a company, you normally have a job. I've brought value to this company."

Bonds also brought enough baggage to fill a 747. But that's a well-chronicled story.

The bottom line is that Bonds wasn't in the mood for a team-orchestrated love fest with all the usual bells and whistles. He wanted a fan-fueled send-off with a walk down memory lane, and that's what he got at a sold-out AT&T.

Bonds received a standing ovation when he was introduced before the game and another one when he took the field.

He waved to the fans and waved his cap as they chanted "Bear-ree! Bear-ree! Bear-ree" for one of the final times.

Bonds received a standing ovation before he grounded out in the first inning, before he grounded out in the fourth and before he flied out to deep right-center in the bottom of the sixth.

That was it for Bonds. For the game. For his Giants career. As the theme from "The Natural" played, Bonds ran out of the dugout, pointed to his fans and took off his cap to them one last time.

Then he was gone, headed out of the dugout and toward the Giants clubhouse.

Before the game, Bonds spent much of his time saying goodbye to teammates and members of the organization. He autographed a Giants jersey for pitcher Tyler Walker. He shared a warm handshake with longtime clubhouse man Mike Murphy.

Earlier in the day, Bonds underwent an MRI of his sprained toe, an injury that had sidelined him since Sept. 15.

The MRI revealed no broken bones, Bonds said.

"Still swollen," Bonds said. "Still sore."

But not too swollen or sore for him to take the field at AT&T for his final game as a Giant.

Bonds said he won't play in any of the Giants' remaining three games in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Asked whether he would even travel to Los Angeles with the team, he said, "God forbid."

It's hard to blame him. Both the Giants and Dodgers are out of the playoff race. There's no reason he should finish his Giants career in L.A. amid a cacophony of boos at Dodger Stadium.

It's fitting that Bonds ended his Giants career in San Francisco, where his fans again showered him with their unconditional love and turned a blind eye to his BALCO and personality baggage.

"Win, lose, draw, controversies, they've always loved him," infielder Rich Aurilia said.

Even during an understated farewell.

Reach Eric Gilmore at egilmore@bayareanewsgroup.com.