Jimmy Bonner

From BR Bullpen

James Everett Bonner listed as Jimmy Bonna in some transliterations; real name is Bonner

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 151 lb.

BR Japan page

Biographical Information[edit]

Jimmy Bonner was the only African-American to play in the Japanese Professional Baseball League.

Bonner, who had only finished 8th grade, played for black independent teams on the West Coast, including the Oakland Red Sox, California Yellow Jackets and California Negro Giants. On April 19, 1936, he set a Berkeley International League with 17 whiffs; he made the league All-Star team. That fall, he was signed by Dai Tokyo for the JPBL, which had just started in the spring of 1936 as Japan's first professional baseball league.

For Dai Tokyo, the submariner was 0-1 with a 10.24 ERA, walking 13 in 9 2/3 IP in 4 games on the mound (3 starts). He did better at the plate, going 11 for 24 with a double, triple, two walks and a steal; he played 2B, SS and 1B in addition to pitcher. In his last at-bat in Japan, he tripled but was thrown out trying for home. In 1943, Bonner enlisted in the US Army.

Bonner did not return for 1937 and no other black players appeared in the JPBL. When the Central League and Pacific League replaced the JPBL in 1950, Japanese baseball had not yet seen an American player since World War II. John Britton and Jimmy Newberry would be the next African-Americans in Nippon Pro Baseball, appearing in 1952.

Source: Agate Type by Gary Ashwill