Bobby Bonds (March 15, 1946 - August 23, 2003) was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball from 1968 to 1981, primarily with the San Francisco Giants. Noted for his outstanding combination of power hitting and speed, he was the first player to have more than two seasons of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, doing so a record five times, and was the first to accomplish the feat in both leagues; he became the second player to hit 300 career home runs and steal 300 bases, joining Willie Mays. A dangerous leadoff hitter, he also set major league records for most times leading off a game with a home run in a career (35) and a season (11, in 1973); both records have since been broken, though he still holds the single-season National League record. He batted and threw right-handed. He was the father of star outfielder Barry Bonds.
Born in Riverside, California, Bonds played high school baseball at Riverside Polytechnic High School with Dusty Baker, and signed with the Giants in 1964. His brother Robert played in the National Football League, and his sister Rosie was a 1964 Olympic hurdler. In 1964 he was a High School All-American in track & field, while also being named Southern California High School Athlete of the Year. Playing in the Giants' minor league system, he was Most Valuable Player of the class-A Western Carolina League. He hit a grand slam in his first major league game, June 25, 1968, being one of three players in major league history to do it (joining Bill Duggleby, 1898, and Jeremy Hermida, 2005), and the only 20th-century player to have a grand slam as his first hit. Bonds was named to the 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
Bonds was remarkable during his era for his combination of power and speed, but also for his propensity to strike out. In his first full season in 1969, he set a major league record with 187 strikeouts, also leading the NL in runs, and he broke his own record a year later with 189. That record lasted until 2004, when Adam Dunn broke it by striking out 195 times. When Bonds retired, he ranked third in career strikeouts with 1,757, behind Willie Stargell's 1,912 and Reggie Jackson's 1,810. His casual attitude rankled some observers; after being criticized for not running out ground balls, he remarked, "If you get 200 hits a season, you're going to hit .333 and you'll still have 400 outs. I don't see why you have to run down to first base every time to make an out."
He was a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (1971, 1973-74), and a three-time All-Star (1971, 1973 & 1975, winning the MVP award in 1973). In 1970, he stole a career-high 48 bases, the highest total by a Giant since Frankie Frisch in 1921. In 1971, he finished fourth in the NL in runs batted in and second in runs, leading the Giants with a .288 average as they won the NL West. A bruised rib cage limited his play in the 1971 NLCS, his only postseason appearance; he was a late-inning replacement for rookie Dave Kingman in Game 1, and did not play in Game 2 before starting the finals two games, batting 2-for-8 in the series. That season, he placed fourth in the NL MVP award voting. In 1973, he placed third in the MVP voting after hitting a career-high 39 home runs, 11 of them to start a game, and leading the league in runs a second time. Bonds was named the NL Player of the Year by The Sporting News in 1973 and was also named an outfielder on TSN's American League All-Star Team in 1977.
In 1975, he broke Eddie Yost's career record of 28 leadoff home runs; his eventual record of 35 stood until Rickey Henderson broke it in 1989, and his NL record of 30 was broken by Craig Biggio in 2003. His single-season mark of 11 was broken by Brady Anderson in 1996.
After being traded to the New York Yankees after the 1974 season, Bonds became one of the sport's most-traveled figures, playing for seven more teams over seven seasons, with more than one season for only the California Angels (1976-77); in 1977 he tied the Angels club record for home runs in a season (37). In addition to the Yankees (1975), he also played for the Chicago White Sox (1978), Texas Rangers (1978), Cleveland Indians (1979), St. Louis Cardinals (1980), and Chicago Cubs (1981). He again found criticism from teammates for his style of play; fellow Indian Rick Manning said, "Bobby wouldn't hit the cutoff man if he were King Kong. I thought Bobby was a dumb base stealer. He was the only guy who could steal 34 bases and get thrown out 30 times . Every time we needed a clutch hit he never got it done."
Bonds' 461 career stolen bases ranked 12th in major league history upon his retirement. He was hitting instructor for the Indians from 1984-87, and rejoined the Giants as a coach in 1993 when his son Barry signed with the team as a free agent. As a player, coach, scout and front-office employee, he was with the Giants franchise for 23 seasons. Barry Bonds is the only other player in major league history to hit 300 home runs and steal 400 bases, and also the only other player to have five 30-30 seasons.
Bobby Bonds died of complications from lung cancer and a brain tumor at age 57 in San Carlos, California.