Blog #53 (Barry Bonnell)

By Richard J. Decker on May 29, 2013 7:00 AM

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Although the Philadelphia Phillies made Barry Bonnell the first pick of the 1975 Major League Draft, he never played for them. Rather, he began his 10 year major league career with the Atlanta Braves in 1977, concluded it with the Seattle Mariners in 1986 and had a 4 year pit stop with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1980-1983 where in 1983 he had his best year hitting .318 with 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 54 RBI. He was known as a clutch right handed hitter who hit 4 career grand slams, almost always led his team in game winning RBI and had an excellent big league outfield arm. He finished his career with a respectable .272 average, 56 home runs and 355 RBI's. After his retirement from baseball, he pursued his passion for aviation. Here are his Opening Day memories:

Bonnell.jpg"While I had some good Opening Days and some bad ones, the best was an Opening Day that didn't happen. Our Blue Jay team left spring training in 1983 and flew to Detroit - right into the teeth of a winter front slashing down from Canada. We were all glad to be alive when we landed, and we were still a bit worried as the bus struggled through a driving snowstorm to the hotel.

The next day was scheduled off and we intended to work out in Tiger Stadium, but when we got up and looked out the window, a blinding winter wonderland stretched out over the city. We were informed that we would still be working out, but in a local junior college gym instead of the stadium.

We got on the bus and rode to the stadium to pick up our gear. Instead of going straight to the locker room, several of us went up a ramp and into the box seats behind the dugout. Standing in the covered area, looking out over the deep field with a foot of new snow, I felt a mixture of disappointment and excitement - sad because I was pretty sure that Opening Day was postponed and excited because it felt just like Christmas.

The stadium and field were beautiful in a way that few of us had ever experienced, particularly the Latin ballplayers. The well-manicured green was replaced with a plush comforter of dazzling white. Alfredo Griffin and Luis Leal had wandered down to the snow-covered seats and distracted my thoughts with squeals of 'Ayeee, it's cold!!!'

I casually moved into the snow-covered seats behind them and made a snowball. They were sticking their hands in the snow and immediately pulling them out, with all manners of Spanish expletives flowing, and it never occurred to them to pick up the snow. I threw a snowball on the field, getting their attention, and looked at them out of the corners of my eyes with a slight grin. While they looked back and forth between me and the impression left by the snowball on the field, I made another snowball. They looked at me with utter astonishment, staring with their mouths wide open, as I raised the snowball slowly into throwing position. Realizing that I was pointing at them, they shouted in a heavily accented panic, 'No Barry, don't do it!! No! No! No!' I laughed as they scrambled over each other, slipping and sliding, trying to run for cover. I hit Alfredo in the back and he went down on all fours, howling as if he'd been shot. I made snowballs and threw them in rapid succession, and for some reason Alfredo and Luis never thought to make snowballs of their own to try to defend themselves. They acted like I had a unique power over this in-comprehensive stuff and they were powerless, doomed. Flight was their only instinct.

In seconds, the commotion attracted other teammates, who gladly joined in. Alfredo and Luis got slaughtered in the most one-sided snowball fight in history! We laughed until we cried, and didn't get a chance to start the season until several days later.

I will never forget the Opening Day that didn't happen, and the naïve, childlike innocence of my Latin teammates. That memory is cherished every bit as any of the game-related events of my career."

Thanks Barry for that unique story. See everyone in two. Richie