Glancing Back, and Remembering Bobby Bonds
Willie Mays was the prototype for the ballplayer who could hurt you with the long-ball bat or his speed on the base paths. No one in major league baseball could approach Mays in that combination of athletic skills until he was joined on the San Francisco Giants by a strong and talented outfielder named Bobby Bonds.
Bonds was signed by the Giants in 1964 and made his debut with the club four years later. In his first game, Bonds homered … with the bases loaded, becoming the second major league player to hit a grand slam in his first game. Playing half the 1968 season, Bonds finished with a .254 batting average, nine home runs, 35 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
In his first full season as the Giants’ right fielder, Bonds hit .259 with 32 home runs, 90 RBIs and 45 stolen bases. He also led the league by scoring 120 runs. Bond’s remarkable ability to combine power and speed continued throughout the next decade. In the 1970s, he hit .274 and averaged 28 home runs, 86 RBIs and 38 stolen bases per season.
Bonds had more than 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season five times in his career, still the major league record. In 1973 he led the National League in runs (131) and total bases (341). He was an All-Star three times (and was named MVP of the 1973 All-Star game) and won three Gold Gloves.
He was the complete ballplayer, just as his son, Barry, would be.
After seven seasons in San Francisco, Bonds was traded by the Giants to the New York Yankees for Bobby Murcer. Bonds became one of the most-swapped played in the majors during the rest of the 1970s, playing for the California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs from 1976 through 1981.
He retired after the 1981 season with a career batting average of .268. He hit 332 home runs and stole 461 bases.