I got to speak with Kimberly Bell last week. Barry Bonds’ ex-girlfriend. Not ex-mistress, she’ll have you know. He was in the midst of a divorce when they met. She dated Bonds from 1994 to 2003 and was called as a witness in 2005 as part of the whole grand jury fiasco. After Bell took the stand, some nasty things were said about her in the media and so she did what any self-respecting woman would do. She took her naked body Nationwide to clear her good name. Unfortunately for her, though, most of my questions were about Bonds. She can clear her good name elsewhere. Enjoy.
You were approached by David Hans Schmidt about the Playboy deal, had you ever thought about doing anything like that before?
You know I had some contact with Playboy a couple years earlier, but I didn’t feel it was the right time – it was right after testifying for the grand jury and I just wanted to wait and see what was going to happen with that. But, you know, I waited 3 years or so and said nothing, and so, to have all these people saying just awful things about me that I felt I had a…a right to defend myself and Playboy gave me a platform to do that.
I know that you talked to David Hans Schmidt a few days before he passed away…
Yea, I likely spoke to him the day that he did what he had done, and I feel really awful. I mean, he’s got daughters. My condolences to them for sure.
I understand that you lost money because of Schmidt. Has Playboy offered you any more?
No, but they’ve been really good to me aside from that. I mean, they had had several dealings with David Hans Schmidt prior and I had only known David for about a month, but they’ve been really good and I know…this whole thing took them back as well. David spent my Playboy money…but he felt really remorseful about that, really regretted having done that, he felt really bad, but it was already done. …All he could do was offer me an apology.
Barry reportedly putting together a legal team to file a lawsuit against Curt Schilling because of some comments he made (which he has since apologized for). Were you ever worried that [Bonds] would file a suit against you?
No, because I’m telling the truth, and so I really don’t have any concern about that. I’m not really sure what somebody thinks they’re going to sue me for. You know, when you tell the truth, your story doesn’t change so I really don’t have any concern about that. I think that I read recently that they decided not to file any charges against me or file a lawsuit and I know it’s because I just really don’t believe they have a leg to stand on.
Is there anything in the article that you look back on and think, “Oh, geez…maybe I shouldn’t have said that?”
No, I mean, I told the truth and these were questions that were asked of me so especially regarding the physical changes that occurred. I mean, I probably would phrase things differently myself, but I mean, I think that people want it to be very salacious and want to talk about, you know, the size of things and so forth. I mean, it kind of makes me uncomfortable to do that as well, but these were some of the questions that were asked of me by the grand jury. I mean, they want details and they want you to be very specific, so that’s kind of how that got out there like that.
Bonds admitted to you in 1999 that he had used steroids…
Yea, between the ’98 and ’99 seasons he told me he used them and it was because he had this enormous tumor-like lump on his elbow and it was an injury that he was going to have to have surgery on and he told me that that had occurred because he had used steroids. It caused the muscles and the tendons to grow a lot faster than the joint could handle.
Do you know how long he had been using steroids at that point?
You know, putting all the pieces together now, that was about the same time he began training with Greg Anderson, and that’s who is currently serving time for refusing to testify in front of the grand jury.
You say you don’t know how anyone couldn’t have noticed that Bonds was using steroids. But did you ever talk to other players or their wives or girlfriends who suspected at all?
No. You know, Barry keeps his distance from a lot of his teammates anyway, so when we would travel together it was just kind of he and I being separated from the rest of the people. He didn’t have a lot- I wouldn’t call them “friends” on the team. He didn’t have a lot of friends. He pretty much kept to himself a lot. So other than Greg Anderson, you know, we were only surrounded by various hired people. And those were his trainers and all the people that joined him on the road.
I remember watching when he hit his 700th home run, the fans were going crazy for him, you know, they love him in San Francisco, and then he walks down into the dugout, all the way to the end by himself and it didn’t look like any of his teammates were excited for him or anything. What about his relationship with his teammates? Is the isolation just his personality or maybe the steroids did something to affect that?
Well, he alienated himself from a lot of people on the team and a lot of it was by his [own doing]. You know, everybody else had one locker, he had like three or four. Everybody else had to sit on benches in the locker room, and he had a big massaging recliner and big screen TV. So, by putting himself in the separate category, he’s going to separate himself from the group in that respect.
…And he had a lot of very public fights with players, including Jeff Kent was a big one. They got in a couple physical altercations. You know, they were fighting for who was gonna bat third or fourth and, you know, who was the best player on the team and eventually Jeff Kent left.
This is more in the wake of things like the Chris Benoit tragedy, but looking back on the comments Bonds used to make to you, i.e. “I’m going to cut your head off and leave you in a ditch,” do you think the drugs actually made him capable of doing something like that?
When I first met him it was during the O.J. trial, so I mean, you certainly understand that people are capable of doing all kinds of things. And so, the threats he made before, you know, five minutes later he was the nicest guy in the world, so I kind of let it go and would write it off as he was having a bad day or something else is going on. But eventually, when he choked me in the hotel room that day, that’s when I knew it was very real. That he was actually capable of being physically violent with me. His first wife had filed some charges against him and apparently they didn’t stick or she may have dropped the charges, but it’s been questionable with him before, but he had never done something like that until a month before the whole relationship ended, which was also during the time when he was using steroids.
What triggered the incident?
I was 20 minutes late, and that was the reason. I was supposed to meet him somewhere, I was flying all the way from Arizona to California…and I got off the elevator and I go running to the room, I’m breaking a sweat doing it. The door was already propped open and I walked in and he just gripped me by the throat, spun me around and pressed his, you know, linebacker sized body into mine and whispered in my ear, “You ever bleeping do this again and I’ll kill you.” And I just remember thinking he had never laid his hands on me before. And personally, I’ve never had a man do that, so I knew that was a line that I would never allow somebody to cross with me. But we weren’t living near each other at that point and one month later is when he told me I needed to disappear.
Do you know if he’s still on steroids or if he’s taken himself off of them?
I think that they’re doing a lot more checking nowadays and this investigation is ongoing – there’s still a steroid probe, there’s still a grand jury investigation into him. But he did get into trouble a couple of years ago for using amphetamines. Maybe two or three years ago, and he ended up saying that he thought that they were skittles. He blamed it on them being skittles in someone else’s locker and so he took them and ate them. That was his story at the time.
Marc Ecko recently bought Barry’s home run ball and let fans vote on what to do with it. What would you have voted…to bestow it, brand it or ban it?
I think branding, I think it’s a brilliant idea, I really do. It’s still a part of history, but the fact that Marc Ecko chose to do this, you know, he let the fans decide this. Barry called the guy a lot of names and I feel sad about that, but he let the fans decide and ultimately it’s these fans that are going to decide the fate of all these things and the records and getting somebody into the Hall of Fame. You know, to a degree, they paid his salary. So I think it should be up to the fans to decide.