Bonifay’s impressive career includes one crazy footnote
It’s tough to top Mike’s choice of Rajai Davis, who has a whopping 415 stolen bases in the majors, yet has never fully been appreciated as one of the elite former Curve players.
Still, there’s really only one answer to this question, when you consider something that quite frankly is unbelievable.
There have been some incredibly mediocre and even some pretty weak Curve players who made it to Triple-A over the years. They were in the right place at the right time when someone had to be to promoted to fill a hole at the next level.
Yet somehow, Josh Bonifay, one of the best Curve players of all time, never played a single game in Triple-A.
Furthermore, I believe Bonifay is the best Double-A player you’re likely to ever see who never got to play in Triple-A.
Bonifay played three seasons for the Curve (2003-05) and one more in Double-A with the Astros in 2006. Over those four years in Double-A, these were his stats:
n .276 batting average, 74 home runs, 284 RBIs
n 414 hits, 93 doubles
n OPS figures of .796, .850, .895 and .798
In 2005, he had a huge season for the Curve, hitting .282 with 25 homers, 77 RBIs and the impressive .895 OPS.
His 55 career homers with the Curve are tied with Adam Hyzdu for most in franchise history.
In Bonifay’s final season of pro ball, for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2006, he hit .261 with 19 homers, 75 RBIs and a .798 OPS.
He never got a call-up to Triple-A with the Astros, just like he never did with the Pirates, and he decided to hang it up after that year at 28 years old.
Bonifay has long been beloved around here as a Curve legend, so in a sense, he’s not underrated at all by Altoona fans.
But Bonifay was always underrated and underappreciated by the people who mattered most — the player development folks whose job it was to promote the best players up the ladder.
Sure, he could always hit, but the knocks on Bonifay were that he was too slow and not a good enough defensive player. But he was never a defensive liability with the Curve, and the fact that he was always a tremendous team leader should have made up for some of the other perceived deficiencies.
I’m not saying Bonifay ever would have been a big league star if given the chance. But good grief, it’s unthinkable that no one ever thought enough of him to at least give him a crack at Triple-A.
There’s no reason to pity Bonifay, who’s very highly thought of in baseball circles now as an executive. He’s currently the player development director for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he spent the 2017 season as a coach on the Texas Rangers’ major league staff.
Bonifay very well could be a big league general manager someday, as his father, Cam, once was for the Pirates.
But no matter what he does in the future, “Mr. Altoona” will always be a big part of Curve history, as well as the most underrated player who ever wore the team’s uniform.
Cory Giger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.