Jon Dowd is the fictional player in MVP Baseball video game series representing Barry Bonds. The player is named after the game's assistant producer.
History of Jon Dowd
EA Sports had worked out a contract with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to use all Major League Baseball (MLB) players who are members of the Players Association union. Former San Francisco Giants left fielder Bonds withdrew from the union's licensing agreement because he felt independent marketing deals would be more financially lucrative for him.
Bonds, a 7-time MVP with first ballot Hall of Fame numbers, was not easily ignored, especially since the Giants' offense rested on Bonds' shoulders. EA Sports was left with a strange predicament and needed a player who could fill Bonds' shoes and could be easily interpreted as Barry Bonds. However, the replacement could not be exactly like Barry Bonds, in order to avoid legal action. EA Sports created Jon Dowd, a devastatingly powerful Giants outfielder, in his stead. Although they attributed Dowd with batting abilities similar to Bonds, they changed several key factors: his name, race, age, handedness, and uniform number. Since Jon Dowd is crafted from the parts used in the Create-A-Player mode, Dowd has no career batting statistics and is thus always a rookie when starting in Dynasty mode, leading him all-but-invariably to win the National League Rookie Of The Year award in the first year of Dynasty mode.
For the 2005 edition of MVP Baseball, EA Sports altered Dowd to be more similar to the real-life Bonds, altering his age, as well as making him a left-handed batter. His default batting attributes are still the best in the game.
In a similar fashion, Barry Bonds is known as "Joe Young" in 2K Sports' MLB 2K7 game, and "Reggie Stocker" in MLB 07: The Show. However, Dowd has made a return to baseball video games, his return as the Giants Starting Left Fielder came in the 2K Sports video game, The Bigs. His look has been updated quite a bit, but he still bats left and still has his jersey number, 51, which in real life is the number of Giants Pitcher Noah Lowry, who, for the game's purposes, has number 52.
Ironically, in a February 14, 2006 New York Times story, MLB announced a possible investigation into Bonds' history of steroid use as he approaches the all-time home-run mark.
The N.Y. Times story suggests that the ideal investigator for the inquiry would be aggressive Washington lawyer John M. Dowd, whose investigation led to the banishment of Pete Rose from baseball for gambling. Also, there was a player on the 1912 New York Yankees with the name John O'Dowd.
MLB players not in the MLBPA
Players are not eligible to join the MLBPA if they were hired as replacement players during the 1994-95 MLBPA strike. These players receive compensation almost identical to union players, but they are not permitted to vote on union matters. The more prominent ones are listed below, with the name assigned to them and team for MVP 2005 in parentheses. Like Dowd, they have similar skills but different jersey numbers and races. All such players in the Boston Red Sox organization were assigned #86 to honor the 2004 team, which won its first World Series in 86 years.
*Brian Daubach (Bailey Osborne, Pawtucket Red Sox)
*Brendan Donnelly (Scott Barcik, Anaheim Angels)
*Jose Flores (Scott Smith, Las Vegas 51s)
*Charles Gipson (Chris Parker, Round Rock Express)
*Matt Herges (Daryle Patterson, Fresno Grizzlies)
*Cory Lidle (Alan Hughes, Philadelphia Phillies) (died in a plane crash in 2006)
*Kerry Ligtenberg (Scott Venema, Toronto Blue Jays)
*Ron Mahay (Neale Genereaux, Texas Rangers)
*Tom Martin (Jake Byrd, Atlanta Braves)
*Frank Menechino (Tim Murphy, Syracuse Skychiefs)
*Lou Merloni (Paul Cruz, Buffalo Bisons)
*Kevin Millar (Anthony Friese, Boston Red Sox)
*Damian Miller (Roger Chamberlain, Milwaukee Brewers)
*Justin Miller (Aaron Callaway, Toronto Blue Jays)
*Eddie Oropesa (Ryan Lewis, Portland Beavers)
*Keith Osik (Angel Brown, New Orleans Zephyrs)
*Shane Spencer (Larry Reed, Columbus Clippers)
*Jamie Walker (Daryl Smith, Detroit Tigers)
If they were selected to Baseball America's Top 100 prospect list, players who made an impact in 2005 such as Zach Duke, Félix Hernández, Ervin Santana and Huston Street are represented in the game by having fictional minor leaguers who share their attributes. However, only players with major league playing experience are eligible to join the union and be included in the game, so their likenesses were not used since they had yet to debut as of roster finalization. For any 2006 video games, though, they are included. Gustavo Chacín, Ryan Howard, Willy Taveras and some other prominent rookies in 2005 were included in the game because they had a cup of coffee stint in the majors in 2004 but did not have enough time on the roster to disqualify them from Rookie of the Year voting.