Bobby Bonds, San Francisco Giants slugger

Although he is perhaps best known as the father of Barry Bonds, one of the best baseball sluggers of all-time, in his own time Bobby Bonds was also a feared slugger at the plate, and one of the best all-around players of the 1970s.

Bobby Lee Bonds was born March 15, 1946 in Riverside, California. Taking over for a slumping Felipe Alou in 1968, Bobby had somewhat of an ausipicious debut game: in his third time at bat, he hit a grand slam against the New York Mets, becoming the only player in the 20th century to have his first hit be a grand slam.

Bobby played his first full season in 1969, where he led the league in both runs and strikeouts, a rather dubious feat. In 1970 he improved to batting .302 and collected 200 hits - despite leading the league in strikeouts again! He also wowed Giants fans by swiping 48 bases and hitting 26 home runs. In 1971 he improved on his strikeout rate, smashed 33 home runs, knocked in 102 runs, won his first Gold Glove, and was named to his first All-Star team.

Bobby was a particularly dangerous fielder because of his blazing speed. He had all of the skills to be a centerfielder, but that position was occupied by the still phenomenal Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays. So Bonds became one of the premiere fielding rightfielders in the league. He also used his feet on the basepaths, topping 30 steals ten times and 40 steals 7 times. Perhaps Bobby's only real weakness was the hole in his bat - he struck out 120 times or more in every full season he played in. Still, his thunderous bat and legs made him a superstar throughout the 70s.

In 1973, Bobby earned another All-Star nod with 39 home runs and 43 steals, coming just one home run short of the elusive 40-40 mark - a feat nobody had accomplished before. He also led the league in total bases and earned his second Gold Glove, a feat he would repeat for a third and final time in 1974.

Before the season began in 1975, Bobby was traded to the New York Yankees for Bobby Murcer. It was a highly controversial move, both because of Bobby's talent and his connection with the hometown Giants. Bobby adjusted well enough to American League pitching to earn another All-Star nod, tacking on 32 more home runs. But injuries convinced the Yanks to trade away the 29 year old Bonds to the California Angels. While Bobby spent two good but uneventful seasons with the Angels, the Yankees won two American League pennants. In 1976, the tough as nails hitter played 99 games with a fractured finger before undergoing season-ending surgery.

Despite hitting 37 home runs with the Halos in '77, by now Bonds was viewed as something of a clubhouse cancer. Like his famous son, Bobby was notoriously surly and difficult to interview. His quiet, standoffish demeanor didn't rub well with the media or with the teams he played with. In 1978 he played 26 games with the Chicago White Sox before they shipped him to the Texas Rangers. Although Bonds stole 43 bases and hit 31 home runs between the two teams, his knees had begun to flare up, and the Rangers shipped him to the Cleveland Indians for the 1979 season.

The season proved to be historic to Bobby as he launched his 300th home run in June of the year, joining his old friend Willie Mays as the only players in baseball history with 300 home runs and 300 steals (later to be joined by his son Barry.) But Bobby was once again set adrift, traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980. There, Bobby's left knee became a major hassle, and his lack of speed put him on the bench in June. In 1981 he was sent to the Chicago Cubs, who tried to make Bobby their centerfielder. In his first game in a Cubbie uniform, he fell down chasing a flyball in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium and broke his wrist. By the time he returned, he simply wasn't able to perform at his regular level, and he retired at the end of the 1981 season.

After retiring, Bobby became the hitting coach of the Indians in 1984. He worked in between major and minor league baseball for a number of years, until 1993, when Bobby rejoined his old team the Giants along with his son Barry, a newly signed free agent. Bobby served primarily as first base coach and sometimes hitting instructor to the team. In 2002, Bobby was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the same time, his son Barry was chasing down all kinds of batting and home run records. Throughout the 2003 season, Bobby became very ill, undergoing open-heart surgery and chemotherapy, and was hospitalized for the majority of the season. While his son hit towering home runs, an ailing father watched with pride. Finally, on August 23, 2003, Bobby Bonds passed away in San Carlos, California. He was 57.

Career Statistics

YEAR   TEAM    G   AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB   SO   BA
1968 SFG NL   81  307   55   78  10  5   9   35  16   7  38   84 .254
1969 SFG NL  158  622  120  161  25  6  32   90  45   4  81  187 .259
1970 SFG NL  157  663  134  200  36 10  26   78  48  10  77  189 .302
1971 SFG NL  155  619  110  178  32  4  33  102  26   8  62  137 .288
1972 SFG NL  153  626  118  162  29  5  26   80  44   6  60  137 .259
1973 SFG NL  160  643  131  182  34  4  39   96  43  17  87  148 .283
1974 SFG NL  150  567   97  145  22  8  21   71  41  11  95  134 .256
1975 NYY AL  145  529   93  143  26  3  32   85  30  17  89  137 .270
1976 CAL AL   99  378   48  100  10  3  10   54  30  15  41   90 .265
1977 CAL AL  158  592  103  156  23  9  37  115  41  18  74  141 .264
1978 CHW AL   26   90    8   25   4  0   2    8   6   2  10   10 .278
     TEX AL  130  475   85  126  15  4  29   82  37  20  69  110 .265
     TOT AL  156  565   93  151  19  4  31   90  43  22  79  120 .267
1979 CLE AL  146  538   93  148  24  1  25   85  34  23  74  135 .275
1980 STL NL   86  231   37   47   5  3   5   24  15   5  33   74 .203
1981 CHC NL   45  163   26   35   7  1   6   19   5   6  24   44 .215
     CAREER 1849 7043 1258 1886 302 66 332 1024 461 169 914 1757 .268
* Bold denotes led league.

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