Elijah Bernard Bonaparte
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.
- High School John F. Kennedy High School (Paterson, NJ)
There have been major leaguers with the first name Napoleon as well as the last name Napoleon, but 2009, there has never been a Bonaparte in the majors. Elijah Bonaparte came the closest, spending four seasons at AAA but never getting the call to The Show.
Bonaparte was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 19th round of the 1976 amateur draft. He made his pro debut that year with the Auburn Phillies, hitting .212/.300/.293. He did leg out 6 triples in 50 games, tying Garry Smith and Craig Adams for the New York-Penn League lead. He joined Smith, Mike Ongarato, Jose Oppenheimer and Richard Howard as the NYPL All-Star outfielders.
Elijah batted .269/.375/.345 for the 1977 Spartanburg Phillies. He had 16 outfield assists, leading the Western Carolinas League. He stole 30 bases, but was thrown out running 17 times, and scored 74 runs. He had 7 triples, 2 shy of the league lead.
Bonaparte stormed high-A ball in 1978, continuing to improve as he climbed the ladder. He hit .293/.350/.400 with 9 triples and 26 steals (but 16 times caught stealing). He tied Jerry McDonald, Wally Backman and George Vukovich for the Carolina League lead in three-baggers and was one behind Backman for the lead in times caught stealing. He had 12 errors, one shy of leading Carolina League flyhawks. He was 7th in the circuit in average, between Backman and Luis Salazar.
The New York native reached AA with the 1979 Reading Phillies and produced at a .283/.337/.360 rate. He had 14 assists, 4th among Eastern League outfielders. He stole 31 bases in 43 attempts. By 1980, Bonaparte was in AAA with the Oklahoma City 89ers, hitting .280/.347/.403 with 22 steals in 35 tries and 11 triples. He tied Manny Castillo and Tim Raines Sr. for the 1980 American Association lead in triples, his third time leading his league.
Bonaparte returned to Oklahoma City in 1981 and remained fairly productive with a batting line of .292/.358/.408 and 11 steals in 13 tries. He moved to the Minnesota Twins chain in 1982 and batted .320/.384/.415 between two stops; he hit .306/.374/.398 for the Toledo Mud Hens, his primary club that year. That put him 6th in the International League in average, right behind Don Mattingly. He had 14 assists, tying for third among IL outfielders. Minnesota did not call him up, though; Gary Ward and Tom Brunansky each hit 20 homers that season but their third outfielder, Bobby Mitchell, was not nearly as productive.
Bonaparte was 0 for 4 for the 1983 Louisville Redbirds and spent the rest of the season with the Rochester Red Wings, hitting .273/.346/.370. He stole 17 bases but was thrown out trying to steal on 15 occasions.
- 1977-1984 Baseball Guides