SAN FRANCISCO -- Bobby Bonds, one of the first major
leaguers to blend home-run power with base-stealing speed and the
father of one of baseball's greatest sluggers, died Saturday. He
Barry Bonds' father had been ill for nearly a year with lung
cancer and a brain tumor, but he never lost his love for baseball.
He was at Pacific Bell Park on Wednesday night, watching his
superstar son and the San Francisco Giants.
Bobby Bonds died shortly before noon ET, a Giants spokesman said.
Barry Bonds, who leads the majors with 39 homers, will be away
from the Giants indefinitely. He left the team for five days during
a road trip last week to be with his father.
"It's a very sad day, but I want to remember him the way he
used to be, having a good time and making jokes," said Hall of
Famer Orlando Cepeda, Bonds' longtime friend and former teammate.
"I'm happy that he's resting in peace."
The Giants and their fans observed a moment of silence before
Saturday's game against Florida. A sellout crowd rose and stood in
near-complete quiet as photographs of Bonds in his San Francisco
playing days flashed on the scoreboard.
"All of baseball mourns the passing of Bobby Bonds," commissioner Bud Selig said. "He was a
great player, who with speed and power, helped redefine the game.
He was a credit to baseball. We will miss him."
Before their NFL preseason game, the San Francisco 49ers also
observed a moment of silence for Bonds at Candlestick Park, where
he once roamed the wind-swept outfield for the Giants.
Bonds' health had been in decline for many months. In early
June, he spent time in the hospital while fighting pneumonia. He
underwent surgery for a brain tumor in April and also endured many
rounds of chemotherapy.
"My wife called me earlier this morning and told me when I was
on the way to the ballpark," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "It appeared to be inevitable, but
nobody thought it would happen this soon. I lost a childhood hero -- we grew up in the same town, my dad was his coach and his mom
babysat me when I was young -- and a great friend."
Bobby Bonds, a three-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1973 game,
hit 332 home runs and stole 461 bases for the Giants, New York
Yankees, California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Texas, Cleveland,
St. Louis and the Cubs.
He began his career with a bang, hitting a grand slam in his
first game on June 25, 1968. He's the only player in the modern era
to accomplish that feat.
Bonds hit his last home run on Sept. 24, 1981, for the Cubs -- he connected against Jesse Orosco, still playing for the Yankees.
"This is a great loss for the Giants family," San Francisco
owner Peter Magowan said. "We want the Bonds family to know that
they're in our thoughts and prayers. Bobby has meant so much to
this organization for such a long time.
"It will be strange not to see him in the clubhouse and working
on the field with Barry and our other players."
Bobby Bonds was a dazzling player who approached every aspect of
the game with aggression -- for better and worse. He led the majors
in strikeouts three times in his first six seasons, setting the
single-season record with 189 in 1970.
"When I pitched against him, I loved to watch him swing at
those high fastballs," Hall of Famer Tom Seaver recalled. "He
used to tease me and say, 'Listen, when I go to the American
League, you'll lose three strikeouts a game.' "
"He was always smiling, very happy. I stole one of his bats and
used it for about three starts. I hit a home run and a double," Seaver said.
Bonds hit .268, had 1,024 RBI and won three Gold Glove awards
as an outfielder -- and his combination of power and speed was
"I would think in that era we were the fastest outfield in
baseball," recalled Cubs hitting coach Gary Matthews, who played
alongside Bonds and Garry Maddox with the Giants in the early
Though he often was overshadowed by close friend and longtime
teammate Willie Mays, Bonds became the fourth player ever to hit 30
homers and steal 30 bases in the same season in 1969 with the
"Maybe Bobby could have had Hall of Fame numbers and maybe he
didn't reach his potential, but Barry Bonds will always make people
remember that name," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Mays, Barry Bonds' godfather, was the only player to do it more
than once before Bobby Bonds accomplished the feat five times in
his 14-year career. Barry Bonds also has done it five times; no
other player has reached the mark more than three times.
Said Matthews: "I remember him telling me that if he'd known
hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases was such a big deal, he
would have done it every year."
In fact, Bobby Bonds nearly became the first 40-40 player in the
majors. In 1973, he hit 39 homers and stole 43 bases.
Mays and Bonds came together before that. The opening of NBC's
"Game of the Week" telecast used to feature a highlight of Mays
catching a ball above the wall as he collided with Bonds against
the chain-link fence at Candlestick.
"He was a little bit ahead of his time," said Orioles manager
Mike Hargrove, Bonds' former teammate. "You didn't see a lot of
guys of his stature as leadoff hitters. Bobby was a big, strong
A native of Riverside, Calif., Bobby Bonds signed with the
Giants in 1964 out of high school.
He played just one season with the Yankees, but became the first
30-30 player in the team's storied history with 32 homers and 30
steals in 1975.
Bonds played seven seasons with San Francisco, and he was with
the organization for 23 seasons as a player, coach, scout or
front-office employee. Bonds served as the club's hitting coach
from 1993-96, and since then has been a special assistant to
general manager Brian Sabean.
Bonds was a frequent presence in the Giants' clubhouse, where he
often chatted with his son, Mays, Willie McCovey, Cepeda and any
other players within range.
"There's a man who's been coming into this clubhouse since I've
been here," Giants outfielder Marvin Benard said. "He was my
hitting coach my first two years. He's healthy and everything's
great, and then, bam. It's been hard on us. I can't imagine what
it's been like for Barry."
Bonds spent his final years enjoying the rise of his son on
baseball's career homers list and his development into the game's
best active player. Barry Bonds hit extra-inning, game-winning
homers against Atlanta on Tuesday and Thursday, then rushed from
the clubhouse after each blast to be with his father.
Cepeda recalled a conversation with Bobby Bonds at a golf
tournament in Cleveland several years ago.
"He told me, 'My son is going to be the best ever,' " Cepeda
said. "I said, 'Bobby, that's what everybody thinks about their
son!' ... He was so proud. Sometimes he wouldn't show any emotions,
but he was very proud."
Bonds is survived by his wife, Pat; a daughter, Cheryl Dugan;
and three sons: Barry, Ricky and Bobby Jr.
"Bobby was a good man, a great ballplayer," said Arizona
manager Bob Brenly, who coached with Bonds on the Giants' staff for
two seasons. "I know how much that's been weighing on Barry's mind
and the entire family. Hopefully, they can find some peace in