This past week’s amateur draft and the Giants’ upcoming series against the Pittsburgh Pirates got me thinking of 1982, and what might have been. In the June 1982 amateur draft, the Giants drafted local kid Barry Bonds, a graduate of Serra High School, in the second round. They could not sign him because Tom Haller, then the general manager, wouldn’t offer more than a $70,000 signing bonus. Bonds, the son of former Giant outfielder Bobby Bonds, wanted $75,000. When he didn’t get it, he went to college at Arizona State instead. (Rumor had it that Frank Robinson, hearing that the parties were only $5,00 apart, offered to make up the difference himself.) Bonds would eventually be drafted by the Pirates as the sixth pick of the 1985 amateur draft.
What might have been? What if Haller had had the good sense to sign Bonds? Bonds probably would have come up to the big club in 1986, the same year Will Clark and Robby Thompson did. Jeffrey Leonard would eventually have had to make way for Bonds in left field, so he would have been traded or allowed to leave as a free agent. That means no Hackman one-flap-down show in the 1987 NLCS. Do the Giants acquire Kevin Mitchell in 1987? Maybe they do, but only as someone to play third base until Matt Williams can be brought up to the bigs. Does Mitchell get the chance to break out in 1989? Perhaps he does, but not as a Giant outfielder. Would Bonds have meant more to the team in their 1987 and 1989 playoff runs than did Leonard and Mitchell? Would the Giants have been better? Probably not, but we’ll never know.
Incidently, in that same 1982 draft, the Giants also selected Pete Incaviglia. He wanted $15,000 to sign. The Giants offered $8,000 and lost him. The Giants’ number one pick that year was Steve Stanicek, who had been a designated hitter in college. (Read that sentence again to understand just how bad a GM Tom Haller was.) The Giants did sign Stanicek, one of only two of their top ten draftees they signed that year, but he never made it to the majors. Haller’s successor, Al Rosen, always signed the players the club drafted, claiming such a practice showed the club’s scouts he had faith in them.