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RIP, Bobby Bonds

I wish I had a clear memory of Bobby Bonds, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 57 yesterday, but I don’t. I remember the Yankees traded fan favorite Bobby Murcer straight up for him, he had one of his patented 30/30 seasons in 1975, back when the only other player to ever have a 30/30 season was Willie Mays, and then got traded to the Angels for Ed Figueroa and Mickey Rivers, who were two cornerstones of the three pennant-winning teams that followed. That’s pretty much it.

I’m not really sure why Bonds, whose career numbers would have put him on a Hall of Fame track had his career lasted a bit longer, made so little impression. Ray Ratto suggests it was being ahead of his time and being in the shadow of Mays and McCovey with the Giants. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I wish I did remember him better. Having Barry Bonds as a son is certainly a great legacy, but Bobby Bonds’ career is well worth remembering in its own right. I hope a few people will take the time to look at his numbers and to read what his contemporaries are saying, as that can only help.

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4 Comments

  1. Scott Lucas says:

    Some reasons why Bonds didn’t leave a strong impression of his playing days:

    1. He was toast by age 34. Ratto’s comparison to Rickey Henderson is a stretch, in my opinion, but the elder Bonds average/on-base/slugging numbers are very similar to Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson. Had Bonds lasted about three more years, he might’ve surpassed 400 homers and 500 steals, pretty much making him a lock for the HOF.

    2. He never played in the postseason after 1971. The ’75 Yankees and (believe it or not) the ’78 Rangers were the best teams he played on after leaving the Giants.

    3. He played on seven teams during his last seven years.

  2. "Fair and Balanced" Dave says:

    In addition to what Scott posted, Bobby Bonds had some very public problems with alcohol abuse at a time–in the wake of Denny McLean’s drug use–when the press was coming down hard on athletes who abused controlled substances (though sportswriters always managed to give Micky Mantle a pass for his excessive drinking).

  3. "Fair and Balanced" Dave says:

    In addition to what Scott posted, Bobby Bonds had some very public problems with alcohol abuse at a time–in the wake of Denny McLean’s drug use–when the press was coming down hard on athletes who abused controlled substances (though sportswriters always managed to give Micky Mantle a pass for his excessive drinking).

  4. Robert H. Conner says:

    going strictly by the numbers, Bonds was the best player of the 1970’s. He’s the only player even close to being on every one of these lists…1970-1979 stats leaders, 5 30/30 seasons, he absolutely changed the game by redefining power/speed comb…should have been NL MVP in ’71 & ’73. He was the best player in America both of those seasons. His Hall of Fame case is overwhlming once you peel away AVG & K numbers. By the way Bonds only led his league 3 times in strikeouts, Mickey Mantle did it 6 times. There are 13 players in the hall with lower AVGs, including Killebrew, Reggie & Schmidt.
    Runs
    1 Pete Rose 1068
    2 Bobby Bonds 1020
    3 Joe Morgan 1005
    4 Amos Otis 861
    5 Carl Yastrzemski 845
    6 Lou Brock 843
    7 Rod Carew 837
    8 Reggie Jackson 833
    9 Bobby Murcer 816
    10 Johnny Bench 792
    RBI
    1 Johnny Bench 1013
    2 Tony Perez 954
    3 Lee May 936
    4 Reggie Jackson 922
    5 Willie Stargell 906
    6 Rusty Staub 860
    7 Bobby Bonds 856
    8 Carl Yastrzemski 846
    9 Bobby Murcer 840
    10 Graig Nettles 831
    home runs
    1 Willie Stargell 296
    2 Reggie Jackson 292
    3 Johnny Bench 290
    4 Bobby Bonds 280
    5 Lee May 270
    T6 Graig Nettles 252
    T6 Dave Kingman 252
    8 Mike Schmidt 235
    9 Tony Perez 226
    10 Reggie Smith 225
    stolen bases
    1 Lou Brock 551
    2 Joe Morgan 488
    3 Cesar Cedeno 427
    4 Bobby Bonds 380
    5 Davey Lopes 375
    6 Freddie Patek 344
    7 Bert Campaneris 336
    8 Bill North 324
    T9 Ron LeFlore 294
    T9 Amos Otis 294
    hits
    1 Pete Rose 2045
    2 Rod Carew 1787
    3 Al Oliver 1686
    4 Lou Brock 1617
    5 Bobby Bonds 1565
    6 Tony Perez 1560
    7 Larry Bowa 1552
    8 Ted Simmons 1550
    9 Amos Otis 1549
    10 Bobby Murcer 1548
    walks
    1 Joe Morgan 1071
    T2 Ken Singleton 888
    T2 Carl Yastrzemski 888
    4 Darrell Evans 828
    5 Sal Bando 817
    6 Gene Tenace 805
    7 Pete Rose 783
    8 Bobby Murcer 744
    9 Bobby Bonds 738
    10 Jimmy Wynn 733
    OPS (on-base pct. + slugging pct.)
    1 Willie Stargell .928
    2 Reggie Smith .881
    3 Reggie Jackson .870
    4 Rod Carew .862
    5 Joe Morgan .860
    6 Ken Singleton .846
    7 Bobby Bonds .840
    8 Johnny Bench .840
    9 Carl Yastrzemski .836
    10 Tony Perez .827
    total bases
    1 Pete Rose 2804
    2 Bobby Bonds 2762
    3 Tony Perez 2627
    4 Reggie Jackson 2604
    5 Johnny Bench 2566
    6 Al Oliver 2564
    7 Lee May 2535
    8 Bobby Murcer 2455
    9 Graig Nettles 2441
    10 Willie Stargell 2440