Barry Bonds on his playing years: ‘I was straight stupid’

Miami hitting coach Barry Bonds stands in the dugout during a game against Washington on May 15.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Barry Bonds was often perceived as a self-centered jerk during his playing years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

And he admits that perception was correct.

Now a first-year hitting coach with the Miami Marlins, the former slugger is trying to show a kinder, gentler side of himself and says he has no one to blame but himself for his bad-boy image.

"Me. It's on me. I'm to blame for the way I was [portrayed], because I was a dumbass. I was straight stupid, and I'll be the first to admit it," Bonds told Sports On Earth in an interview posted Wednesday. "I mean, I was just flat-out dumb. What can I say? I'm not going to try to justify the way I acted toward people. I was stupid.

“It wasn't an image that I invented on purpose. It actually escalated into that, and then I maintained it. You know what I mean? It was never something that I really ever wanted. No one wants to be treated like that, because I was considered to be a terrible person. You'd have to be insane to want to be treated like that. That makes no sense.”

I was just flat-out dumb. What can I say? I'm not going to try to justify the way I acted toward people.

— Barry Bonds

That bad attitude – plus the widespread belief that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his playing career (he has only admitted to doing so unknowlingly) – made him a largely unpopular figure, even as he chased and eventually passed Hank Aaron’s hallowed home run record.

"Hell, I kick myself now, “ Bonds said. “I could have had a trillion more endorsements, but that wasn't my driving force. The problem was, when I tried to give in a little bit, it never got better. I knew I was in the midst of that image, and I determined at that point that I was never going to get out of it.

"So I just said, 'I've created this fire around me, and I'm stuck in it, so I might as well live with the flames.'"

The interview came less than a week after Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson told “Fox Sports Live” that Bonds recently turned his back and ignored him when the young player asked to take a picture with his childhood idol.

Bonds said he called Pederson as soon as he heard about the interview to apologize and explain that "I didn't even know that it happened.”

"I told him, 'It's an unfortunate situation that you felt you had to go to the media to make that statement when, technically, it was an honest mistake, and I didn't go out of my way to do something like that,’ ” Bonds told

He added: “ I have no reason to 'dis' another ballplayer for no reason. He's a young player. He's a good player. So it's better for me to apologize to him if there was a misunderstanding and to let him know, 'That ain't me.'"

Pederson told that all was forgiven. "He apologized and I accept his apology. It's all good," he said. "It was very nice of him and I appreciated the call, appreciated him reaching out to call and clear things up."