HBO, Words + Pictures Step Up To Plate For Barry Bonds Project, Doc On Baseball Slugger Tarnished By Controversy

EXCLUSIVE: HBO and Words + Pictures have launched production on a documentary about Barry Bonds, one of baseball’s greatest players – and one of the most polarizing figures in all professional sport.

The untitled Bonds film is being directed by Keith McQuirter (By Whatever Means Necessary: The Times of Godfather of Harlem) and executive produced by Oscar winner Ezra Edelman (O.J.: Made in America) and Connor Schell and Libby Geist, creators of the Emmy-winning series 30 for 30 and EPs of the megahit docuseries The Last Dance.

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“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.”

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds

The controversy alluded to explains why Bonds has never been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his unprecedented accomplishments (for instance, he is the only player to hit at least 500 home runs and steal at least 500 bases). To this day, he remains closely associated with MLB’s steroids scandal, which came to light as a result of a federal investigation into Balco, a San Francisco Bay Area supplements company that allegedly distributed steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to prominent pro athletes. In 2011 Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with the Balco inquiry, but that was later overturned on appeal.

According to a release, the documentary “will include a diverse cast of influential figures from Barry Bonds’ life and career.” Interestingly, the release also notes “the opportunity for Bonds to actively participate and share his firsthand experiences remains available.”

McQuirter hails from the city where Bonds established record after MLB record.

Barry Bonds at bat on May 16, 2006 in Houston, Texas.
Barry Bonds at bat on May 16, 2006 in Houston, Texas.

“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.”

No release date for the Bonds documentary has been announced. The film is directed by Keith McQuirter; executive producers are Connor Schell, Libby Geist, and Aaron Cohen for Words + Pictures; Colin Barnicle and Nick Barnicle for Barnicle Brothers, along with Ezra Edelman and Keith McQuirter. The producer is Niema Jordan.

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