Parents of Detroit Tigers’ Pitcher Jeremy Bonderman Chosen as Little League Parents of the Year
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 9, 2007) – Pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Jeremy Bonderman has experienced much success on the field, including an appearance in the 2006 Major League Baseball World Series. Although displaying grit, intensity and competitiveness on the mound, his compassion and grounded persona away from the field remain a tribute to his parents, Gene and Dori.
In recognition of the Bondermans’ enduring support and commitment to
their children and the Little League program, they will be honored as
the 2007 George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year at
the 61st Little League Baseball World Series later this month in
“I have looked at the list of Major League players whose parents have gone before us, and it’s pretty prestigious,” Mr. Bonderman said. “Even people who don’t follow baseball can recognize the players whose parents who’ve received this award and it’s humbling. With me and the four boys all loving baseball, I was fortunate to be blessed in having an understanding wife, because we would always be going in different directions to support the children.”
As a Little Leaguer, Jeremy was a slick-fielding shortstop, solid hitter and crafty pitcher playing for his father in Pasco (Wash.) National Little League. Even then, his combination of talent, tenacity and coachability guided him toward a career in Major League Baseball. The mentoring provided by his parents, who will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this fall, kept him focused on reaching his goals, while also instilling a realistic perspective toward his life’s ambitions.
Mr. Bonderman coached Little League for three seasons and Jeremy for one season, but he was instrumental in helping develop his second son’s talent, while nurturing a love of baseball in each of Jeremy’s brothers (Josh, Jeff and John). Mrs. Bonderman also was an active volunteer, taking shifts in the concession stand, carpooling, and being at the field to share the experience.
“We were there for our children, and taught them the best we could,” Mr. Bonderman said. “All the boys grew up loving the game, and had so much fun playing Little League like my brother and I did when we were kids. When I look back on our time in Little League, all I do is smile. To be rewarded for supporting your children is simply a great honor.”
Jeremy was selected 26th overall in the 2001 amateur draft by the Oakland Athletics, making him the first U.S.-born player to be drafted after his junior year in high school. He elected to bypass college and signed with the A’s organization. In July of 2002 he was “the player to be named later” in a three-team trade that sent him to the Tigers.
Fast-tracked to the Majors, Jeremy was 20-years-old when he debuted with Detroit on April 2, 2003. That season the Tigers struggled, and he finished with a 6-19 record. This season, he has pushed his career win total over .500, and secured a fourth consecutive 10-plus win season for the defending American League champions.
The George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is presented annually to the parents of a Major League Baseball player who were actively involved in their son’s Little League experience. The award is named in honor of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and former First Lady Barbara Bush. Both were Little League volunteers during their children’s early years in Midland, Texas, and continue to support Little League today. Earlier this year, Mr. and Mrs. Bush were honored as the “First Family of Little League” during the 24th Little League International Congress in Houston, Texas.
“The Bondermans have seen their son excel at the Major League level, but his willingness to be a role model and reach out to this generation of Little Leaguers is a testament to their teachings as parents and Jeremy’s memories of Little League,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “As Jeremy has shown, becoming a Major League Baseball player is an attainable dream, but during his Little League days what was paramount was playing baseball and having fun. Mr. and Mrs. Bonderman nurtured the balance between work ethic, the will to succeed and enjoying the game, and they did so in support of Little League. We are proud to present them with this award.”
More than recognition of one set of parents annually, the George and Barbara Bush Parents of the Year Award is designed to be a symbolic recognition of the millions of mothers and fathers who each year respond to the call of parental duty and help to provide a wholesome healthy arena for leadership training for the children of their respective communities.
Some of the past recipients of the award include: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Schmidt, (parents of Mike Schmidt, 1981), Mr. and Mrs. Carl Yastremski (parents of Carl Yastremski, 1989); Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Mussina (parents of Mike Mussina, 1996), Dr. and Mrs. Charles Jeter (parents of Derek Jeter, 2000) and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Varitek (parents of Jason Varitek, 2003). The 2006 recipient was Joyce Guy, the mother of Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, and the first single parent to be honored with this award.
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.