December 10, 2013

Walter "Walt" Bond

A baseball player of imposing size, Walt Bond stood 6 feet 7 inches and weighed 228 pounds, making him an effective power hitter during his minor league career. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962, but still batted a strong .320 in 132 games for the Salt Lake City Bees of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Then, in a 12-game September stint with the Indians, Bond hit six home runs in only 50 at bats, drove in 17 runs, batted .380 and slugged .800 - yet he could not make the 1963 Indians roster and spent that season still in Triple-A.

On December 19, 1963, he was acquired by Houston. The Colt .45s' general manager was aware of Bond's illness, but the team doctor examined him and determined that the leukemia was in remission. Bond then turned in his best Major League season as the starting first baseman for the 1964 Colt .45s, leading Houston in home runs and runs batted in, and appearing in 148 games. The following year, Bond held onto his starting job, but his production slumped with the team's move into the Astrodome; some teammates speculated that his leukemia had recurred that season, affecting his play.

Traded to the Twins just before the 1966 season, he returned to Triple-A and batted .316 with 18 home runs in 122 games for the Denver Bears, earning an invitation to spring training for 1967. Bond made the team and batted .313 in part-time duty during the season's first month, but the Twins released him on May 15 Although Bond was snapped up by the Jacksonville Suns, his declining health forced him to the sidelines after only three games. He entered a Houston hospital for cancer treatment, but died there on September 14, 1967 at age 29.

GPS Coordinates
29° 55.791, -095° 27.063

Section C
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

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