Robert Bonomini

St Bernard High School Graduate

No Current Picture of Bob Bonomini

A tough coach with a big heart retires

By Glenn Franco Simmon   Times-Standard


Bob Bonomini is known as a tough coach with a big heart, and for some, he is a reminder of the good old days of sports when effort and desire were more important than glory and fame.

For many years, Bonomini has been a fixture in North Coast sports. His baseball coaching record is impressive: 10 league championships while St. Bernard High's coach from 1963-1972; 13 league championships while Eureka High's coach from 1976 to 1996.

His achievements aren't limited to there, however.

In 1990, Bonomini was inducted into the St. Bernard Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 1996 North Coast Section Baseball Honorary Coach Award.

And, in 1997 Bonomini was inducted into the Fresno State Baseball Hall of Fame. He played baseball for Fresno from 1960-1962.

Bonomini also received All-American honors while playing for the Wichita, Kan., semi-pro baseball team in 1964.

And he played for the Arcata-based Humboldt Crabs from 1958 to 1970.

"I started on the Crabs right out of high school," Bonomini said. "I made all-league in '61 and '62."

Now that the athletic director at Eureka High is retiring, sort of, a retirement party is being thrown for him 5 p.m. Saturday at the Eureka Elks Lodge.

Although Bonomini is "retiring," he is actually going to stay on as the high school's athletic director -- "part-time," of course.

"I am delighted he has decided to stay on and serve Eureka High School as the athletic director," said Ferndale Unified School District Superintendent Carl Del Grande, a longtime friend. "He has a lot of experience and wisdom, and he will share it with the younger people."

Although Bonomini was known for his baseball and basketball teams, he also played football.

"I enjoy being around athletics in general," Bonomini said. "I just enjoyed being around all of them. I played all three--football, basketball and baseball."

Bonomini has made many friends along the way.

"I've known Bob Bonomini as long as I have had a memory," Del Grande said. "His father and my father were teammates on the Humboldt Crabs. He and I spent about 10 years working together, officiating high school and college football. In fact, I am still doing that. He was my inspiration for doing that, and he was extremely helpful. He taught me some of the skills and mechanics to be a sound football official.

"He is a dear friend and an exceptional coach. He was always a strong disciplinarian. You knew where you stood with Bob. He was an excellent technician -- especially in basketball and baseball. He has won numerous championships in both of those sports. He's a real student of the game."

Ron Hartman, who works with Bonomini at Eureka High, has spent a lot of time with Bonomini.

"I would call him a Teddy bear," Hartman said. "He comes across real gruff and rough, but deep down he is a soft-hearted guy. His main concern is for the welfare of the students.

"... He was a coaching genius. He used the talent he had; he changed things around to get the most out of his kids. He has a mathematical mind. He seems to be a couple of steps ahead of the other team. That has always impressed me about him. He was always a step ahead and ready for any situation."

Bonomini is also known for his competitiveness -- both as a player and a coach.

"He's very competitive," said Julian Erickson, a former Eureka High coach and counselor. "On the court, during a game, I thought he was very good. I thought he excelled during game situations as well as anyone. I think the players thoroughly enjoyed playing for him; my three sons played for him. The players played hard for him.

"He would get the most out of his material. He liked the game situation better than practices. Long practices were not his thing. He had short, crisp practices. He didn't spend a lot of time on things that didn't matter; he was to the point."

Roger Golec, who works in the school's counseling office, said Bonomini has already shared a lot of his experience with younger coaches.

"As an athletic director," Golec said, " he comes off gruff, but he knows what he is talking about -- whether it is talking about fund raising or whether he is talking about handling difficult situations with players, parents and other coaches.

"His advice has always been really sound and humorous at the same time. I have always found he has backed us up 100 percent as coaches, which is really good to know -- to have an athletic director who backs you up 100 percent because all the decisions you make as a coach are not going to work out or going to be popular."

Golec said that Bonomini is a good administrator.

"Not all coaches can be administrators or athletic directors," Golec said. "He has to juggle a lot of programs. As a soccer coach, I think he has been supportive of building the soccer program and maintaining it. He has been real supportive of a relatively new program like soccer.

"Again, you wouldn't know it by the way he talks, but he comes through when you are supposed to come through -- whether it's with new equipment or new uniforms. One of the biggest supportive moves he made was to bring the soccer games back to Albee Stadium, which is a really nice venue to play in."

Golec says Bonomini has his own brand of humor.

"Deep down," Golec said, "what comes across is that he knows high school athletics is about the kids playing and having fun. If the kids are out trying and playing, then that is what's important. Obviously, when he was a coach, winning was also important to him."

Hartman laughed when asked about Bonomini being "part-time."

"Knowing Bob the way I know him," Hartman said, "he is not going to take it lightly. The district will get its money's worth when he is working. He will put in a lot of hours."

Bonomini has served as athletic director ever since Warren Smith retired in the 1990s. He took it over about a year before Smith retired, Hartman said.

"He is everywhere," Hartman added. "As athletic director, he kind of acts like it doesn't really matter, but he is really concerned and does a good job of being at almost all of the activities that go on. He lives at the gym."

Erickson noted that Bonomini will now have time to travel and play more golf.

"For years," Erickson said, "it was hard to get him out of Humboldt County. Now he is ready to leave Humboldt County at the drop of a hat. He was pretty much a home-spun Eurekan for years and years, and now he ready to fly the coop at a moment's notice to travel.

"We have spent a lot of time together, coaching against each other and playing golf against each other. One thing that hasn't gotten any better is his golf game, but he is still competitive on and off the course. His bark has always been louder than his bite."

Tickets for Saturday's retirement party at the Eureka Elks Lodge, 445 Herrick Ave., are $16.50 per person, which includes a barbecue dinner, and are available at Sport and Cycle on Broadway in Eureka.

There will be a "pay-our-respects" social hour at 5; dinner at 6; and "ceremonies" at 8. Del Grande will be master of ceremonies. For more information, call Monica Rivera or Roger Golec at 476-4818.

2000 Times-Standard
Fri, May 19, 2000

The following information was obtained from The Times-Standard November 20, 1997 Sports section.

Robert Bonomini

Eureka Coach Honored

Bonomini is inducted into Fresno State Hall

The last man who would relish individual attention for athletic greatness was honored for a second time Tuesday.

Eureka High School athletic director Bob Bonomini was inducted into the Fresno Statue University Baseball Hall of Fame with four other former Bulldog legends at the eight annual Hall of Fame Dinner.

Bonomini was previously inducted into St. Bernard High School's Hall of Fame after starring as a student-athlete and then spending years as a coach and teacher at the private school in Eureka.

Bonomini, who is one of the legendary coaches in Humboldt Del Norte League history as well as one of the finest ever to complete locally, isn't one to talk about himself.

When asked about his brilliant career with the semi-professional baseball powerhouse Humboldt Crabs, Bonomini said, "I'll tell you anything you want to know...but I don't want to talk about myself."

Bonomini was a two year letterman at Fresno State in 1961-62. He was a two-time All-California Collegiate Athletic Association choice at second base.

He batted .331 with 11 stolen bases and 20 runs batted in during the 1961 season. He had a sparkling .958 fielding percentage. In 1962 he batted .328 with 11 doubles and 23 RBI.

During Bonomini's two years at Fresno State, the Bulldogs of coach Pete Beiden were 70-17 and won back to back conference titles.

Always a clutch hitter, Bonomini's consistent performances at the plate and in the field set him apart, according to the Bulldogs' Hall of Fame committee.

Bonomini went on to win a series of basketball championships as a coach at St. Bernard and Eureka high schools. His greatest string of success was as the head baseball coach at Eureka High from the mid 1970s until his retirement to focus on athletic director's chores prior to the 1997 season.

This was taken from the Times Standard Thursday November 2, 1997