Monday, December 14, 2009
#12 Zeke Bonura
Henry John "Zeke" Bonura had a short but effective career in the American League from 1934-1940. Born and raised in New Orleans, Bonura was a natural athlete, and a skilled javelin thrower. After attending Loyola University in New Orleans, he went on to play first base for the Chicago White Sox. He batted .302 with 110 RBI in his rookie year of 1934, and in four years in Chicago he batted .317 with 79 home runs. He was traded to the Senators for Joe Kuhel in 1938, and his average fell to .289, although he still hit 21 home runs. He was sent to the New York Giants for 1939, and played with the Senators and Cubs in 1940 before his major league career ended.
Despite his athleticism, Bonura was a horrible fielder. He was enthusiatic and energetic, but when the ball was on the way to him, the real adventure began. One time, with the bases loaded, the batter hit a slow dribbler towards Bonura. Bonura charged in, but couldn't come up with the ball, it squirted out of his glove, and he bobbled it. He accidently kicked it, and it rolled out of his reach. By the time he picked it up, the batter was on his way to third and all runners had scored. Bonura threw, and the ball wound up in the dugout, allowing the batter to score as well. Not to be beaten, Bonura shouted encouragement to the pitcher: "Stick in there, kid!"
Nicknamed "Bananas," when Bonura was traded from White Sox to the Senators, he drove to Washington from Chicago via New Orleans because it was the only way he knew to get there.
After his playing days, he served in the military during World War 2. He also managed for a few years in the minor leagues. Bonura died in 1987 at the age of 78.
The Autograph: I did not know much about Bonura when I originally wrote him. I learned a lot more after his passing, which is unfortunate because I would have had a lot of questions to ask. A colorful man, to say the least. His autograph is in abundance, and not hard to find for 5 dollars or so.