DALLAS - When he etched his name in baseball history on Aug. 7, 2007 by giving up Barry Bonds' 756th career homer in San Francisco, then-Nationals lefty Mike Bacsik basked in the spotlight. He's never really grown tired of talking about the pitch that will forever link him with the game's most prolific home run hitter.
Bacsik, now 34 and retired for three seasons since he last threw a ball in anger, is still talking. He's a sports talk host on a Dallas-area radio station and has been manning a microphone during the midday hours at the Winter Meetings, using his intimate knowledge of the game he loves to try and carve a new career path.
"I just always liked talk radio. In 2005 when I was playing for the Scranton Red Barons, I came back to Dallas and said, 'Yeah, I started to get to know the guys when I was playing in the big leagues with the Rangers and Mets and playing against the Rangers.' " he said. "I asked if there was anything I could do and they said they didn't have anything that was a paying job, but they could use an intern, someone to come on the air and see if you like it. So I did that for an offseason and liked it."
But Bacsik wanted more, like a regular on-air gig - it didn't matter if it was TV or radio. He had visions of being a talking head on the worldwide leader and pitched ESPN to see if they'd help him learn a new craft.
"I started making calls to ESPN, because I know they had guest analysts for the playoffs. I told them I'd love to come up there for three days and work. When they said they couldn't pay me, I told them to just fly me up there and I'd do whatever I could do. I loved it. I loved analyzing games," he said.
He worked on ESPN News, did guest turns on "Baseball Tonight" and "Cold PIzza." Bacsik's shaved head and sparkling eyes gave him a unique look on camera, but the TV dream didn't pan out, so he headed back to Dallas and concentrated on radio. A stint as a producer with another Dallas radio station ended in 2010 when Bascik was fired for an offensive comment he made over Twitter.
Now, he's a talker on 103.5 The Fan, a CBS affiliate, and he's enjoyed catching up with old teammates like Dmitri Young and Robert Fick, and former opponents who stroll through the lobby that serves as a broadcasting row for the Winter Meetings. Always a talkative guy as a player, Bacsik's knowledge of the game and willingness to chat up just about anyone have served him well.
Inevitably, a conversation with him turns back to the Bonds homer, his moment in the media spotlight.
"When I gave it up, I felt horrible," he said. "Like Mitch WIlliams (who gave up the walk-off homer in the seventh and deciding game of the 1993 World Series), like I'd lost something huge. But then the game went on. It wasn't in the World Series, it wasn't in a playoff game. I just feel like you just accept it, it happened and you talk about it. You get to talk about baseball through it and I love talking about baseball."
Bacsik's never shied away from talking about Bonds' blast, even when former teammate Tim Redding said last year on a national radio interview that he had grooved one to Bonds in hopes of surrendering the historic homer. Understanding that every story has two sides, Bacsik made sure to get his say on the same airwaves, and has since made his peace with the incident.
"Anybody that knows me and was a teammate of mine knows that I would never try to lose a game or try to give up runs," he said.
In October, when the Texas Rangers began their run toward a second straight World Series appearance, 103.5 The Fan asked if he'd like to talk sports in a market that was suddenly baseball-crazy. He's still on KRLD-FM, though he's not sure how long the gig will last.
"When the Rangers started their postseason run, they put me on the air to talk baseball during the Ranger playoff games. They had a great run and they're putting me on more and more," Bacsik said. "This is a great place for me. When I'm working, trying to get a fulltime job in radio, I know all the people (at the Winter Meetings). I can pull them over (for an interview). It's fun to hang out and reminisce."
In the majors, Bacsik was one of those guys who was thankful to be given the chance to play. His career 10-13 record and 5.36 ERA in five seasons with the Indians, Mets, Rangers and Nationals wasn't remarkable. But his desire to find a way to keep in touch with the game he's always loved is reminiscent of his unquenchable desire to keep pitching - somewhere, for someone.
"I just really enjoyed analyzing the game and it was something I wanted to do when my baseball career was over," he said. "And I'm still trying to do it."