In baseball terms, Mark Bonavita is one of those guys you’d call a journeyman.
Back in the day, a journeyman was someone who made the rounds playing on different teams, in different leagues, sometimes even at different positions.
Bonavita’s journey has consisted of more than just baseball. He ran a restaurant; was a writer-editor for The Sporting News; coached baseball at a variety of levels from high school through college; and even played a few games one season in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
And now he has landed at Barnstable High School where he is a guidance counselor and was recently named to succeed Ryan Kinski as varsity baseball coach for the Red Raiders.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back into baseball,” said Bonavita. “I love working with kids and I think I can build good relationships through the counseling aspect.”
“I love the teaching of the game,” he continued. “Hopefully, it’s like riding a bike -- getting back into it.”
A native of the Western Massachusetts town of Agawam, Bonavita moved to Arizona when he was six-years-old. From the time he was very young, he recalls playing baseball year-round.
Spending most of his career as a catcher, he played two years at Central Arizona Community College. He then moved on to school at Lindenwood University at St. Charles, Missouri, as a communications major.
While in college Bonavita took an internship with The Sporting News, which grew into a job as an editor and writer for eight years. His major job was putting out the old Sporting News digests and publications, as well as putting together a college baseball website.
After becoming disenchanted with the way The Sporting News was moving, he returned to the East Coast where he began working as a chef for his uncle’s restaurant. He worked in Springfield and later Westfield, and while working there he decided to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling.
It was while at Westfield State when he got his first coaching job with the freshman team at Westfield High, then later coached at Westfield State where did some recruiting for the college for five years.
In 2014 a counseling job opened up at Cape Cod Tech where worked for two years, before returning to the family restaurant business.
“I realized it wasn’t for me and my initial decision was the correct one (to become a school counselor and coach baseball),” he said. He returned to Cape Tech to fill a full-time sub position for a maternity leave last year, and when that position ended the Barnstable counseling job opened.
Then, when Kinski – who had served as head coach for the Raiders for the past three seasons – stepped down early this winter, Bonavita applied for and got the coaching job.
Interestingly, Bonavita has had some prior Cape Cod history, having spent an abbreviated season with the Hyannis Mets of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 1993.
After finishing at Central Arizona, he had a Cape League tryout with Hyannis early in the summer of 1993 where he was a temporary catcher for about a dozen games, filling in while some players finished their college seasons.
“I wish it could have been longer, but it was a great experience,” Bonavita said, noting among the highlights was catching former Major League pitcher Matt Morris, as well as being behind the plate for future minor leaguer Mike Halprin’s 14-strikeout game.
His career lasted but 2 ½ weeks when he was replaced by a catcher from Georgia Tech by the name of Jason Varitek.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “And a couple of years later I was fortunate enough to get back in it as a coach with Harwich when Steve Englert was manager.”
With a look ahead to the coming high school baseball season, Bonavita is bounding with excitement.
“We have some very good players coming back, but we also have a few holes to fill,” he said. “I’m eager to see what we have. There’s a lot of talent from what I’ve heard and I know it’s a great group of kids.”
Contact Mike Richard at email@example.com.