In baseball, it’s not easy to forget a name like Boof Bonser. It belongs to a right-handed pitcher who has never been a star but through his ability has carved out a lengthy professional career and ensured he will be remembered long after he retires.
In 2000, Bonser was a first-round draft choice (21st overall selection) of the San Francisco Giants out of Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he had a career record of 24-9 with a 1.99 ERA.
After a rough first professional season, Bonser was phenomenal during his sophomore campaign in 2001 with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns. He was 16-4 with a 2.49 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 27 starts, showing what had made him so highly coveted in the previous year’s draft.
He continued pitching well and making steady progress in San Francisco’s system, reaching Triple-A in 2003. However, that offseason, he was traded with pitchers Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano to the Minnesota Twins for catcher A.J. Pierzynski and cash.
Although he maintained his success in Minnesota’s system, Bonser didn’t get called up to the majors until 2006. During his rookie season, he put in a nice effort in the Twins’ starting rotation by going 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 18 starts.
He pitched with Minnesota through the 2008 season but missed all of 2009 because of shoulder surgery. Since then, he has had brief stints in the majors with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics in 2010, has pitched for their minor league affiliates, and also been in the minors with the New York Mets, Giants and Cleveland Indians.
Most recently, Bonser appeared in a combined 18 games (16 starts) in stints with Indians and Giants Triple-A affiliates, going 2-8 with a 5.89 ERA. He wound up pitching in Taiwan at the end of the season, but the 32-year-old’s career is far from over. It will be interesting to see where he lands in 2014, and if he can work his way back to the majors at some point before it is all said and done.
Last year, Bonser was gracious enough to answer some questions regarding his career. Keep reading for more on the pitcher with the unforgettable name.
Boof Bonser Interview:
If you could sit down and pick the brain of any pitcher, current or former, who would that be and why?: I don’t really have one guy. My thing is if I could talk to any old-time pitcher that would be great.
If you were pitching in Game 7 of the World Series, who would you want as your catcher, and why?: Well I have only had three catchers in the bigs that I was able to throw to. [Joe] Mauer, [Jason] Varitek, and [Kurt]Suzuki. Anyone of those guys would be great.
Can you elaborate on the origins of your name?: There is really nothing to my name. It was just a nickname that my parents gave me as a kid, and it stuck with me.
What is your favorite moment of your playing career?: My favorite moment would have to be when I got the call that I was going to the big leagues.
What is your current thought process about trying to get back to the majors after having already been there for parts of four seasons?: Well the biggest thing for me is just trying to stay healthy. So when everything is healthy, it’s just about pitching good and getting back to the bigs.
Which coach or manager has been the most influential on your career?: Every one of my coaches where great. Each one had something different for me to learn and think about.
How does it feel being back with the organization who made you a first-round draft choice in 2000?: It is great. I’m just hoping I can get up to the big leagues with them. That would be like a dream come true.
What are you looking forward to the most for the 2014 season?: My biggest thing is getting myself back to the big leagues and staying there.
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