This weekend, Mark Bonaiuto was inducted into the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame for the second time. Bonaiuto, who grew up in Salem and played football and baseball at St. John’s Prep, was previously inducted as a member of the best baseball team in the history of the university, the 1977 team that finished second in the country in Division 3.
Bonaiuto was the starting shortstop on that squad and a two time captain of the Judges. He helped lead the team to three straight Greater Boston League titles, playing Division 1 teams like BC, Harvard, and Northeastern. Bonaiuto hit .339 in his senior year when he was named MVP of the New England Regional Tournament. He was a two time All GBL selection.
After beating Westfield State, 5-3 to win the regional, Brandeis advanced to the World Series in Marietta, Ohio. They lost the first game to Cal State Stanislaus and then won three in a row to advance to the finals before losing to Cal State again.
The 15th induction ceremony will be held on campus with six individuals and two teams being honored.
“It’s a pretty cool honor,” said Bonaiuto, who now lives in West Barnstable with his wife Marianne, who also grew up in Salem. “Back in 2006 our whole team was inducted, and I know a couple of others have gone in as individuals. I got a call from a friend of mine, who is on the committee telling me about it. We had a very talented team, but when I first came to the school they hadn’t had a winning season in the last 20 years.
“In 1977 we won 26 games, and that was more wins than they’d had in the 20 years before I got there. We had a great group of players and coaches that were able to do something that has never been done again – get to the (NCAA) national tournament. It was double elimination which was a good thing because we were blown out in the first game, but then came back to win a bunch to get to the finals. To be ranked No. 1 in the Northeast and No. 2 in the country is quite an accomplishment.”
Bonaiuto, who is also in the St. John’s Prep Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in both baseball and football, was a career .307 hitter in college (.339 as a senior) with 59 runs scored, 44 RBI’s, 13 doubles, 7 triples, 4 homers, and 15 stolen bases.
“Mark was an outstanding leader, shortstop, and team player in the years preceding and going for the national championship,” said former Brandeis baseball coach Tom O’Connell in a press release. “His grace at fielding and making the play were unsurpassed.”
Bonaiuto played football for coach Fred Glatz and baseball for Dick Matson at the Prep. He pitched and played shortstop for the Eagles, serving as co-captain in both his junior and senior seasons. He was also the quarterback for the football team.
“I was recruited out of St. John’s, but there was no scholarship money at Division 3 Brandeis,” he said. “To be honest, I had no idea the program had been struggling so much before I got there. We turned things around, and I have no regrets about going there. My roommate was Bobby McKenna, another Salem guy, who will be at the induction ceremony. His uncle Bill McKenna was the first All American at Brandeis. I guess the Salem guys did alright.”
Mark and Marianne (who was valedictorian at Salem High) have made their home on the Cape since 2005 but still have family and friends in Salem.
“We try to keep up with what’s happening on the North Shore,” he said. “I grew up in the old Italian section of the city, and have some great memories.”
Mike’s Wish Foundation for Junvenile Huntington’s Disease will hold the 13th annual benefit on Friday, November 1 at the AOH Hall on Lowell Street in Peabody from 7 p.m. until midnight. It is in memory of Peabody resident Mike Visone, who passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with the deadly disease.
Visone loved sports, especially hockey and former Boston Bruin Sergei Samsonov became one of his friends. Visone enjoyed working at Hannaford’s Supermarket and used to save his money to build up his collection of jerseys of pro teams and players with hockey always a favorite. He always had a good time at the benefit, and his family and friends have continued to hold it each year to make a sizable donation to Mass General Huntington’s Disease research to help find a cure.
Tickets are $25 per person and business sponsorship is welcome ads will be put in a program book). Peabody Youth Hockey and baseball along with Peabody High lacrosse and hockey are supporters. There will be a live auction with John Fiore as auctioneer, a silent auction with some great prizes, a crafts table with handmade children’s items, food, cash bar, and music by the Five Hole Blues Band.
Tickets can be purchased by calling John or Ellen at 978-535-9950 or Gayle at 978-535-6811.
Jean DePlacido is a correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at JMDeplacido@aol.com.