Bonifay brothers made their mark on Macon

sports@macon.comMay 13, 2013 

Brannon Bonifay will become the fourth member of his family to go into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame when this year’s class of inductees is enshrined at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Monument Room of the Macon Coliseum. He joins his late father Bob, who was inducted in 2003, his older brother Ken, who was elected in 2011, and his younger brother Cam, who went in last year.

Though none of the four were born in Macon, all had a major impact in sports in the city. Bob and his wife Catherine settled here when he became general manager of the Macon Peaches in 1961, and part of the package included the three boys, all of whom had outstanding high school athletic careers. Ken and Brannon played at Lanier, while Cam finished at Mark Smith after spending some time at Lanier.

Bob, a longtime minor league baseball executive, was among the best in his field. In his second year on the job, the Peaches won the South Atlantic (Sally) League title, the last championship won by a Macon professional team, and they attracted more than 100,000 fans that season. No other Single=A team in the United States attracted as many fans that season.

That 1962 club, which featured future major league all-time hits king Pete Rose, is probably Macon’s most revered baseball team of all time, even considering the Braves’ Single-A squads that played at Luther Williams Field between 1990 and 2003.

Ken finished high school at Lanier in 1964, where he excelled in football, basketball and baseball for the Poets. He was an all-state selection in both football and basketball and was an all-star in baseball. He was named Lanier’s best senior athlete and went on to sign with Georgia Tech, where he played both football and baseball.

Brannon followed in Ken’s footsteps, playing in all three sports, as well. He was Lanier’s starting quarterback in football, a standout guard in basketball and a star shortstop in baseball, and, like Ken, was named Lanier’s best senior athlete in 1967. Georgia Tech also was his college of choice, where he lettered in baseball for four seasons.

He has spent his entire professional career in athletics. He played one year at Wythesville in the Atlanta Braves organization, was manager of the Macon Peaches for one season and was on the scouting staffs of both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Brannon has coached on the high school level at several different schools and is currently the head baseball coach at Brentwood. He has taken the Warhawks to the GISA finals in baseball the past three seasons, with runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011 and a state championship in 2012.

Cam played at Lanier as a freshman and sophomore in high school before transferring to Mark Smith for his final two seasons. Like his older siblings, Cam also starred in all three major sports for the Bulldogs. He was a starting guard on the improbable 1969 state basketball championship team. He followed Ken and Brannon to Georgia Tech and was a standout place-kicker in football and a star third baseman in baseball. His stellar career for the Yellow Jackets resulted in him being elected to the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 at age 37, the youngest person ever chosen for that honor.

Cam also has enjoyed a professional career in the athletics world. His most prominent position was serving as Pittsburgh Pirates general manager from 1993 to 2001. He was Major League Baseball general manager of the year in 1997. He also has worked in the Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Cincinnati organizations and currently serves as an executive with the Reds.

Joining Brannon in this year’s Macon Hall of Fame class are former Mercer baseball coach Barry Myers, football standouts Larry Tharpe, Larry Emery, Steve Putnal, Al Pollard and Mark Farriba, basketball stars Terry Fair and Latavia Coleman and contributor M.L. Clark.

Bobby Pope is the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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