U.S. District Court
During the nine years when Kimberly Bell was Barry Bonds’ girlfriend, she had an old-style answering machine with cassette tapes. When a tape was full, she would throw it in a drawer and put in another one.
And so, in 2005, when she was subpoenaed by the federal grand jury that was investigating the San Francisco Giants star’s suspected steroid use, Bell turned over her voicemail collection as well.
Prosecutors want to play 11 voicemails for the jury in Bonds’ perjury trial, which begins Monday in federal court in San Francisco. They say the tapes show how “threatening and violent” Bonds became after he began taking banned drugs, according to court records.
Bonds’ defense team wants the tapes banned, arguing they’re irrelevant, prejudicial and “a waste of the court’s time,” as they put it in a recent filing.
Bonds, baseball’s career home run champion, has denied knowingly using steroids, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Mark Fainaru-Wada and I first got access to the voicemails during our reporting on Bonds for the San Francisco Chronicle and for our book, Game of Shadows. On the tapes, Bonds can be heard arranging – and sometimes canceling – dates with Bell, while casually mentioning aspects of his life as a millionaire sports star. He gets his Porsche repaired, consults an estate planner, wrangles in court with his ex-wife, films a TV commercial. Toward the relationship’s end in 2003, the messages are increasingly crude and angry. The tapes aren't dated, but they generally are from the late 1990s. Here are excerpts:
Hello, the family leaves tomorrow, so I’m free, free, free and I’m going to check on you tomorrow, so make sure you ain’t doing nothing that you ain’t supposed to be doing, girl, and I will. I’ve got to run an errand today, ‘cause I’ve got to run down to Santa Cruz to drop off a gift for (Giants outfielder) Glen Allen Hill, ‘cause he just had a kid.
You paged me. Hey, do not page me, I left my pager at home…I’m trying to get my bagel shop open by Tuesday…I’m on my way to take my dog to her training…my kids are with (his second wife) Liz, so don’t beep me.
Yo, I ain’t gonna make it today. I gotta do some s-- today that’s important. I gotta do my estate planning, I forgot all about it and I’m picking a guy up from the airport today at 10…I have to get my ex off my estate planning and stuff like that, for my kids and my, in case I die ‘cause if something happens I cannot re-give her back everything I got.
I’ll call you a little later after I do this commercial shoot, but they said you were gone, so you better explain to me where the f—- you are!
Hey hey hey hey. I know you’d better be at work. No, I know you are at work – but guess whose voice you gonna hear when you get home? Mine, ha ha ha ha. So cool — ain’t I so cool? Peace out.
Hey girl. What’s up? Hey, I’m busy with these two game series, so. A night game, then I’ve got that 12:35 game, so then I’m off to San Diego. I’ve got, everything’s set up.
Yeah, and don’t forget, erase your messages, later.
Hey honey bunny, what’s going on? ... I haven’t called you in a couple of days because I’ve been stuck with one car and I’ve been getting dropped off at the ballpark, and once I get to work, I don’t think about calling nobody.
Hey cutie, what’s going on? Don’t be calling me back ‘cause my family’s here. I’ll call you, all right?
Yo Kimmy, where are you girlie? ... I forgot I have split squads, so hopefully I can do something soon.
Hey, what up girl? Ha ha. Read the paper today, I won today, beat my ex in divorce court. Ha ha.
I didn’t leave a message earlier this morning because I told you I drop my kids off at school and I was going to come over to your crib, but you’re at work until noon. And after noon I’ve got to take my kids to swim lessons so, argh! Not today. So what I’m going to do, many, I’m going to set something so I can see you tomorrow after the game. 'Cause I have a day game and I’m just going to say, f-- it, watch the kids or take them to my mom’s house.
What up girl? Hey, glad you got the check. Make sure you do right by it, all right? Make sure you do exactly what I tell you to do with it. Make sure you take care of that first and last month’s rent. Get yourself ahead. Make sure you pay $1,000 towards that taxes…Told you, true friends take care of true friends. Peace. I’m outta here.
Hey girl, ha ha, got back into town and realized I had my kids on the day I got back after I got in at night. I got them the next day…they’re right here, I’m at the house, so I’m not saying too much.
This is Barry. Sorry I couldn’t make it, man, but my f--g Porsche, ummm, just f--d up and I don’t have any car except my one Mercedes and I can’t leave. I have my kids and I can’t leave my kids at home with ummm, (his then-wife) Liz, without some form of transportation.
I’ve got this meeting I’ve got to go to that I forgot about, and I’ve got to help my parents put this TV thing in today, ummm – help my Dad and them. So I’ll come over tomorrow after the game because I leave on Thursday.
Hey girl, this is Barry. I’ve got my kids in the car so I’m whispering, but ummm — I’ll be tied up with them for a little while. They go home Wednesday and I’m off Thursday for sure.
Hey girl, what’s up? Kim, hey – who is trying to get in on my s--? No n----’s trying to get into my s--. Don’t have me kill a n---. Ha ha ha ha – later, girl. I’m on my way to San Diego, but I’m still getting the p----, ha ha. Welcome to the penthouse!
Yo – pick up the phone. That means you’re not home. That means you’re up to something you ain’t supposed to. I’m supposed to know where you go, later.
I’ll find you. Now my blood temperature is rising.
Kim, it’s 6:36. Now I done called three times. You, I mean you can’t even explain it, mother. I’m pissed, ‘cause I already called you at work, so you’re not at f---ing work, either!
Yo! Do not leave that house ‘til you hear from me! Okay? Bye.
If I don’t know where you are, then a n----’s gonna kill somebody, goodbye.
Kim, I just paged you, now I’m pissed. F-- it, I don’t give a f-- what, you better just find me. Well, why don’t you just page me, however, I’ll find you. But if I page you, your ass better drop every f--g thing and call me back!