Wednesday, August 7, 2013

#52 Bobby Bonilla

About the Front: New York, New York! That's a lovely cityscape behind Bobby Bonilla, complete with the Empire State Building over his left shoulder. Do you think they actually posed him in front of the skyline, or is that just a photo backdrop in a studio? I'm willing to suspend my disbelief if you are.

About the Back: Bobby originally signed with the Pirates as an undrafted free agent in 1981, and was claimed by the White Sox in the Rule 5 draft in 1985. He debuted with the Pale Hose in 1986 at age 23, but was traded back to Pittsburgh that July for pitcher Jose DeLeon.

Triple Play:

1. Bobby Bo's two stints with the Mets were something less than peaceful. In April of 1993, he challenged New York Daily News writer Bob Klapisch to a fight in the locker room due to a Klapisch column questioning the player's work ethic. Bonilla famously said, "I will hurt you...I will show you the Bronx". When Bobby returned to New York in 1999, he clashed with manager Bobby Valentine over playing time. The lasting image of the Mets' season came in Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS. While Atlanta was bringing New York's season to a close in an 11-inning nailbiter, Bonilla and teammate Rickey Henderson were busy playing cards in the clubhouse. The Mets were so desperate to be free of Bobby that they bought out his $5.9 million salary for 2000, with payment deferred for the next decade. From 2011 through 2035, Bonilla will earn $1.19 million per year from the team.

2. Bobby struggled overall in the postseason (.215/.320/.349), but he had a pair of crucial hits for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. His leadoff solo home run in the seventh inning cut the Indians' lead to 2-1 and was the first Florida hit off of Jaret Wright since the first inning. Bonilla also started the game-winning rally in the bottom of the eleventh with a leadoff single against Charles Nagy on an 0-2 count.

3. Bobby finished his career with the Cardinals in 2001, ultimately losing his spot in the lineup to rookie Albert Pujols. Before he left, Bonilla did make his pitching debut at age 38. He took the mound in the ninth inning of an April 17 game against the Diamondbacks, with Arizona leading 15-4. He was touched up for a pair of runs on three hits, a walk, and a balk. The big blow was a solo home run by Erubiel Durazo, but Bobby wriggled out of a jam by coaxing an inning-ending double play grounder off the bat of ex-Marlins teammate Craig Counsell.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I was ecstatic when my Orioles traded for Bobby Bo in midseason in 1995. He kept out of trouble during his year and a half in Baltimore and delivered a spark to the team's offense, hitting .300/.371/.506 with 38 home runs and 162 RBI.

Bill James Said: "The Mets moved him back to third base after Hojo's injury, thereby re-establishing the principle that if you ask a player to do something he's not good at, he will fail."

On This Date in 1993: August 7. Indians pitcher Bobby Ojeda allows two runs (one earned) in two innings of relief in an 8-6 loss to the Orioles. It marks Ojeda's season debut after he was injured in a boating accident during spring training that claimed the lives of fellow Cleveland pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin.


  1. 20 years later, whenever Bonilla's name is mentioned, my brother and I still say "I'll show you the Bronx" and start laughing hysterically. How is that even intimidating? Bobby Bo is, was, and always shall be a clown.