Saturday, February 14, 2009

#29 - Bill Bonham

Bill Bonham

This was Bill Bonham, set-up reliever/spot starter. He was decent in this role, with an ERA+ at 122 and 130. When the Cubs converted him to a starter, he was less effective, but his record was 11-22, 13-15 & 9-13. Then his fortunes changed. He went 11-5, 9-7 & 2-1. What changed? He went from pitching for the Cubs to pitching for the Reds. Arm problems brought a quick end to his career.
A highlight of his career: striking out Mike Torrez, Ron Hunt, Tim Foli and Willie Davis in order in the second inning of a game against the Expos. (Torrez reached on a passed ball and stole second for his only career steal. His only other attempt came a couple of months later when he was caught trying to steal 3rd. Had to have been a busted hit and run.) He also had 4 shutouts. He was a decent hitter for a pitcher and used 7 times as a pinch runner.
A lowlight was allowing Dave Cash (single), Larry Bowa (single), Garry Maddox (homer), Greg Luzinski (single), Jay Johnstone (double), Tommy Hutton (double) and Mike Schmidt (homer) to all get hits before he hits the shower in the first inning. This is the record for most consecutive hits allowed to start a game. Ken Crosby relieved and allowed a single to Johnny Oates before the parade was ended on Dick Ruthven’s sacrifice bunt. Why in the heck was Michael Jack Schmidt hitting 7th behind the illustrious sluggers Tommy Hutton and Jay Johnstone?


  1. When Bonham struck out 4 in that inning, my old friend Rick Stelmaszek was the catcher (who allowed the passed ball). Rick has been the Twins bullpen coach for 28 years. He jokes that the passed ball was his way to get into the record books, as he caught 4 strikeouts in one inning (tying many others).

  2. What year was Bonham's "lowlight" against the Phillies? Depending on the year, it might explain Schmidt's spot in the batting order. In the early part of his career, his average was barely above 200. I also remember a very bad year for Schmidt in the late 70's, in which is average and HR total dropped tremendously for an entire season.