Outstanding Bona Coaches




Probably one of the most significant people ever to play at St. Bonaventure was John Joseph McGraw. McGraw was born in 1873 in Truxton, New York, just south of Syracuse. He began his professional baseball career in Olean, New York as a pitcher in 1890, but sources say that he was quickly transformed into a third baseman. In St. Bonaventure's student publication, The Laurel, Hugh Erb spoke of how McGraw was not particularly delighted with the change and at first his performance at the newly acquired position was considered sub-par. McGraw spent his off- seasons attending St. Bonas from 1892-1895, it is here where he helped tune his style of play, as well as expand his knowledge in the academic world. John McGraw eventually was acquired by the major league Baltimore Orioles where he played third base until the late 1890s. In 1901 McGraw went to St. Louis, of the American League, but left after one season to take the managerial/player position with the New York Giants. McGraw eventually decided, in 1907, that he would hang up his spikes for the last time and devote his effort strictly to managing. John McGraw spent over thirty years at the head of the Giants organization and in doing so he managed to acquire ten pennants and three world series titles. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.      

John McGraw

(SBU Archives)



Born April 2, 1869 near Scranton, Pennsylvania, Hugh Jennings was no stranger to the athletic fields of St. Bonaventure. Before even coming to Bonas to play collegiate ball, Jennings had already played three years in the major leagues. In 1891 Jennings began his Major League career with the Louisville Colonels playing in 81 games while hitting .300. In 1894  Hugh would come to Bonaventure with the help of his long time friend John McGraw in order to get a quality education as well as help out the baseball program at the college. Jennings was a player-coach at Bonas from 1894-1897 and in his college off-season he also played for the Baltimore Orioles. It was with the Orioles that Jennings would help lead his team to three National league championships in 1894-1896, eventually winning the Temple Cup world championship in 1897. Sources say that during his five seasons with the Orioles, Jennings never batted less than .328. Hugh also had an impressive career as manager of the Detroit Tigers from 1907-1920. In his first three seasons as manager; 1907, 1908, and 1909 Hugh Jennings won three pennants with the Tigers however, during his tenure with the ball club he was never able to capture a World Series Championship. Jennings would eventually leave the Tigers to join his friend John McGraw as an assistant manager in 1921 and sadly in 1925 Jennings was forced to leave baseball due to a serious illness that would later claim his life. Jennings would always be remembered for his piercing trademark yell on the diamond of "Ee-yah." Hugh was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1939 after a long and impressive baseball career both as a player and a manager.      

Hugh Jennings
(SBU Archives)


The Longtime Baseball Coach and Physical Education Teacher Fred Handler would guide the Brown and White from 1959-1982. Not only was he be the head coach of the Varsity Baseball team he was also the head coach of the Freshman Basketball Team, and an assistant coach for the Varsity Team. He would be the coach that was influential in helping the Bona batmen from playing their season in the Springtime to the Fall Season in 1973. His overall record with the Brown and White was 92-121-1.

Fred Handler
(SBU Archives)


Since he became head coach of the Bonnies, Larry Sudbrook has gained tremendous fame by becoming St. Bonaventure's most winningest coach of all time. On March 1, 2005 Coach Sudbrook recorded his 400th win in a 17-2 blowout against Mercyhurst College, a major achievement for a head coach at one University. Not only has Sudbrook piled up over 400 career wins, but he has also led the Bona nine to two Atlantic 10 East division championships (2000, 4-2 over Fordham and 2002, 7-6 over Fordham), five Atlantic 10 tournament appearances, as well as the school's first Atlantic 10 championship. This happened on May 30, 2004 with  a 3-2 victory over the University of Rhode Island. The Atlantic 10 championship also paved the way for the baseball team's first NCAA Tournament berth. Among his many achievements, Larry Sudbrook obtained the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 2000 for leading the Bonnies to their first Atlantic 10 East Championship. Over Sudbrook's illustrious career he has sent eleven St. Bona players to the professional level. Seven of those players have been selected in the Major League Draft and four other player have been signed as free-agents. The 2004 season was the most successful year in school history, under the guidance of Sudbrook the young Bonnies won the school's first Atlantic 10 Championship and first NCAA Tournament berth. Sudbrook has accumulated 546 wins over his illustrious coaching career, making him far and away St. Bonaventure’s all-time winningest coach. Win No. 500 was extra special for Sudbrook, as his youngest son Cory picked up the save in the Bonnies 4-2 win over La Salle on May 5, 2008

Larry Sudbrook
(SBU Sports Communication Office)


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Last updated: 10 May 2011