Bonura made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox on April 17, 1934, becoming the club’s first true power hitter, swatting 27 home runs in his rookie season. Noted for his big bat, his defensive play usually had fans covering their eyes. In 1936 he led all American League first basemen in fielding, mostly because he refused to go after easy grounders, waiving his “Mussolini salute” with his glove as balls rolled by untouched.
Bonura was unpredictable on the base paths. Without receiving any signal from the bench, he once stole home with two outs in the 15th inning to beat the Yankees. Several years later he stole home again. When asked by his manager why he decided to steal home, Bonura replied that he had seen the steal sign flashed from the dugout. The manager then had to inform the affable Bonura that he had been looking at the other team’s dugout and had acted on the wrong sign.
He was honored with Zeke Bonura Day at Comiskey Park on June 11, 1937 and he paced his team to a 14-8 victory over the Washington Senators with a home run, two doubles, and five RBIs. However, rumors of a romantic liaison with Charles Comiskey’s daughter, combined with Bonura’s frequent annual contract hold-outs and indifferent fielding, led to his being traded…
His nickname was Banana Nose. He was no North Side wine-sipper.