Robert Barry Bonnell (born October 27, 1953), is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball.
He was a star athlete at Milford High School near Cincinnati, Ohio, where he played both varsity baseball and basketball on championship teams. Following high school graduation in 1971, he attended the Ohio State University on a full athletic scholarship where he played both baseball and basketball. He married his high school sweetheart (Stefnie Stapp) and left college during his senior year to play Major League Baseball. He was the first pick in the 1975 Major League Baseball January Draft - Secondary Phase (for college players who had been previously drafted out of high school) by the Philadelphia Phillies.
During his 10-year major league career, Bonnell played for the Atlanta Braves of the National League, and for the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners of the American League. His major league debut with the Braves was in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 4, 1977. While with the Braves, Bonnell, a devout Mormon, introduced Dale Murphy to the faith.
His best year was 1983, when he hit .318 (10 HR, 54 RBI and 10 SB) for the Blue Jays. Known by his peers as a "money hitter" Bonnell hit four grand slams during his career and led his teams in game-winning hits nearly every year he played. With a strong and accurate throwing arm, Bonnell was respected by baserunners in both leagues.
Traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1984, he contracted "Valley Fever" during spring training. The flu-like symptoms associated with Valley Fever caused a respiratory infection that developed into pneumonia. Bonnell struggled to play with the affliction, however, it took a year to recover and he served his remaining two years as a bit player.
As an accomplished aviator with a lifelong passion for flying, Bonnell pursued a career in aviation after exiting Major League Baseball during the All-Star Break in 1986. He attended Flight Safety International's "Airline Transition Program" and was hired as a first officer by Northwest Airlink's Express Air One. Bonnell flew the twin engine turboprop SAAB 340-B for a year but decided that with the events of the day, notably, the failure of Eastern Airlines and, for the second time, the failure of Braniff Airlines, that there were too many high time furloughed pilots flooding the system for him to have a reasonable opportunity to advance to a job flying jets for a major airline.
Bonnell left flying to enter the business world where he worked in the Home Medical Equipment field for ten years. After that he became an importer, supplying a variety of items to large brick and mortar retail chains.
Bonnell is now actively pursuing a career as a writer, working on his personal memoirs and various other projects.
- ^ Fordin, Spencer (24 June 2003). "Where've you gone, Barry Bonnell?". MLB.com. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
By Dean Hanley
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