HBO announces Barry Bonds documentary in production

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - CIRCA 1993: Barry Bonds #25 of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout prior to the start of Major League Baseball game circa 1993 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Bonds played for the Giants from 1993-2007. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Barry Bonds is no easy subject for a documentary. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Seemingly every household-name athlete of the past 30 years has either received or is in the process of receiving the "Last Dance" treatment. You can now add Barry Bonds to that group.

HBO and Words + Pictures have launched production on a documentary about the disgraced San Francisco Giants slugger and all-time MLB home run king, the network announced Wednesday via Deadline.

No release date was announced for the currently un-named project, but here's how it was described:

“The untitled HBO Sports Documentary will tell the story of Barry Bonds, baseball’s single-season and all-time home run king, from his beginnings as the son of All-Star Bobby Bonds, and godson of the iconic Willie Mays, all the way up to his meteoric rise in the 1990s and 2000s,” notes a release about the project. “Using archival footage and original interviews, the film will chronicle Bonds’ emergence as one of the game’s most talented all-around players with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants and then his years as a superstar with the Giants when he rewrote the record book in his late 30s amid controversy.”

Those last two words, "amid controversy," are putting it lightly. Bonds remains one of the most controversial figures in sports history, a man who dominated at the plate more than we might ever see again while becoming the face of the steroid scandal.

Bonds acknowledged project in April, says he has his own on the way

The HBO announcement came with no public acknowledgement from Bonds, who posted a message on Instagram in April saying that "a party" was reaching out to his friends and family about doing a documentary.

Bonds said he wasn't involved in the project and is involved in planning "a bigger and better one."

There is a lot to talk about with Bonds' career

Bonds holds the MLB career home run record with 762, the single-season record with 73 in 2001, the career walks record with 2,668 and the record for most MVP awards with seven, in addition to 14 All-Star selections, 12 Silver Sluggers and eight Gold Gloves. Despite a résumé that would put him in the smallest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's inner circles, he remains out of Cooperstown after the steroid scandal loomed large over his candidacy.

Bonds ran out of eligibility for traditional Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2022, when the BBWAA voters rejected his candidacy for a 10th time. His only remaining potential entry is through a Hall committee, which firmly rejected him in his first go-around later that year.

The admitted steroid use isn't the only reason Bonds has seen personal scrutiny, as he has also received accusations of domestic violence.

Obviously, any Barry Bonds documentary will be dealing with massive moments and difficult questions. The person tasked with wrestling with those for HBO will be director Keith McQuirter, whose past credits include "By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem."

McQuirter will reportedly be speaking to "a diverse cast of influential figures from Barry Bonds’ life and career,” and “the opportunity for Bonds to actively participate and share his firsthand experiences remains available.” Judging from the Instagram post above, Bonds likely won't be taking them up on the opportunity.

McQuirter is reportedly a San Francisco native who watched Bonds at his peak:

“Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s, Barry Bonds was the ultimate superstar,” the director said in a statement. “You couldn’t escape his name or his game, his story, or his personality. Every time he stepped up to the plate, the energy was electric – because he wasn’t just competing with his contemporaries, he was competing with history. Bonds was undoubtedly controversial, but no matter how you felt about him, his pursuit of becoming the greatest player of all time was mesmerizing.”

McQuirter continued, “Through a series of interviews, we will illuminate the untold story of Bonds, providing an intimate look behind the scenes. It will all add up to a complex journey that was one of the most enduring and consequential tales in American sports history – a tale I can’t wait to tell.”

Also involved are executive producer and ESPN "30 for 30" veterans Ezra Edelman, Connor Schell and Libby Geist.

This won't be the first time a major company has taken a crack at a Bonds documentary, as ESPN made the "Bonds on Bonds" docuseries in 2006, which received significant criticism at the time for its softness toward the man himself.