Indians owner who hired F. Robinson dead at 88

Baseball Notes

October 24, 2005

Ted Bonda, the former Cleveland Indians owner who hired Frank Robinson as baseball's first black manager, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 88.

Bonda died Saturday and since June had been in an assisted living facility in Chagrin Falls outside Cleveland.

"He was just the consummate gentleman to the end," nursing director Barbara Marsh told the Associated Press.

Bonda hired Robinson, now the Washington Nationals manager, in 1974, calling it "the right thing to do." Robinson said yesterday that he was indebted to Bonda for providing the opportunity to manage.

"After I was let go, a few years later, he said he never would have fired me," Robinson told the Associated Press. "I appreciated that because he didn't have to say that."

When Cleveland was in danger of losing the Indians in the 1970s, Bonda led a coalition of business owners who bought the club. The group lost revenue each year, but Bonda used his own money to keep the team in town. He sold the Indians in 1979 but remained a minority holder and continued to attend games.

"He was a fair man. He was a listener," Robinson said. "He was always open and honest with me. ... He was a very low-key man, a very honest man and a very compassionate person."

Bonda also is credited with helping bring the NBA's Cavaliers and minor league franchises in soccer, hockey and tennis to northeast Ohio.

His family was hit hard by the Depression and he couldn't afford college, but he went on to serve as chairman of both the Ohio Board of Regents and Cleveland school board.

Managerial search -- Former New York Mets and Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine, also once a coach for the Cincinnati Reds, is rumored to be coveted by both the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers as their next manager, the Dayton Daily News reported. Valentine, though, is managing the Chibe Lotte Marines in Japan. And he says he is happy where he is.

Japan Series -- Matt Franco, Saburo Omura and Lee Seung-yeop homered in the sixth inning, leading the Chiba Lotte Marines over the Hanshin Tigers, 10-0, for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Shunsuke Watanabe pitched a four-hitter for the Marines, bidding for their first Japan Series title in 31 years. They scored single runs in the first two innings, then blew open the game with a five-run sixth. Omura hit a two-run homer off starter Yuya Ando, Franco had a bases-empty shot and Lee hit his second homer of the series, a two-run drive off reliever Hirotaka Egusa. The Marines' Toshiaki Imae is 8-for-8, a Japan Series record for consecutive hits to start a series. The Marines won Saturday's opener 10-1 in a game stopped in the seventh inning because of a thick fog that rolled in off Tokyo Bay.

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