Tom Bonen (born October 28, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois) is the founder and publisher of the Virtual Soccer Magazine (1993–2003) and the Windy City Softball Magazine (1973–1977). He also works as a TV sportscaster for Comcast Sports Net 100 beginning in 1993. For the past ten years Tom spends most of his time being "The Beverly Handyman-Carpenter" on the city's Southside.
Tom was an All-American softball player (1975) and played on the 16-inch World Champion ERV Strikers (1973 to 1976). He was inducted into the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame in 1995 in the Hall's first induction class. He was also inducted into the Valparaiso University Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 (as a member of the 1968 nationally recognized baseball team and considered the school's top all-time sports team).
The early years
Tom and his parents lived in the Woodlawn neighborhood near 62nd and Dorchester (just south of the University of Chicago) until 1955 when they moved to the southwest suburb of Burbank near 79th and State Road.
Tom was a graduate of Owens Elementary School in 1961 (Burbank, IL), Reavis High School in 1965 (in Burbank, IL), Valparaiso University in 1969 (BA in Accounting), and completed his graduate studies at Northwestern University (Masters of Management - M.M.) in 1981 (Evanston, IL).
In high school Tom was an All-Conference baseball player (at Reavis HS). He also was a thespian and appeared in many of the school's productions during 1963-1965, including several lead roles. He was an accomplished competitive speech participant in comedy readings.
He was also a member of the Reavis HS Math Club and won conference and sectional titles in both fractions and binomial equations. In 1965 he was recognized as the Student with the Greatest School Spirit at Reavis. He won the Superintendent's Scholarship Award in 1965 and several other scholarships to attend Valparaiso University.
He worked as a young actor at Drury Lane Theatres in Evergreen Park in 1964-1965. He appeared in professional shows with Hollywood legends such as Hugh O'Brien, Martha Ray, and many others.
Tom graduated from Valparaiso University with a BA degree in accounting and finance (1969). He completed his graduate studies at Northwestern University with Masters of Management. (i.e., MBA) in finance and marketing (1981) while working in the Loop business district at Continental Illinois National Bank (1972 to 1982).
In 2006, his 1968 Valparaiso baseball team was inducted into the Valpo Hall of Fame. His varsity baseball career (1967–69) included three consecutive NCAA post-season tournaments while the team was among the nation's top-ranked teams each of those three years (1967–69).
In 1974, he worked alongside Chicago legends Mike Royko and Tim Weigel with the World Series of 16-inch Softball in Soldier Field on NBC and WTTW and has been active on the prep sports scene for the past fifteen years.
Tom was an All-American 16-inch softball player and a key member of the US National and World Champion ER Vrdolyak Strikers of Chicago during the 1970s. This top-ranked team of the 1970s is still considered by many authorities as one of the top five teams of the century in Chicago’s legendary softball circles. He also played for the Turners Tap (1972), American Rivet - Sobies (1977–1979), Flamingoes (1976); Alsterda Construction-ERV and Schaaf Glass (1975).
In the early 1970s Tom met with marketing executives of RJ Reynolds and convinced them to fund one of the first ever sports-marketing promotions for the new-found corporate sponsor and the naming of the Winston Softball Circuit which began in 1973 in Chicago. He is solely responsible for introducing a multi-layer of competitive levels of play in Chicago's 16-inch softball circles with the development of the Winston Softball Circuit.
He was inducted into the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame in its first year of existence in 1996. He was well known as the publisher/editor of the widely popular Windy City Softball Magazine during the 1970s and was donned the "George Halas of Chicago softball" by his long-time friend and 16-inch softball teammate Mike Royko.
The All-Business Years
Tom spent nearly 25 years on LaSalle Street in Chicago before retiring in 1993 and turning his energies to the world of youth and professional soccer. He spent ten years as a commercial banker and portfolio adviser (1972–1982) at Continental Illinois National Bank (now Bank of America), before becoming the Vice President of Marketing at the Chicago Board of Trade (1982–1987). At the CBOT he was responsible for the growth and development of the introduction of options on futures contracts during the mid-1980s. He steered the CBOT through the acquisition of the Mid-America Commodity Exchange to prevent the CBOE from launching their efforts into the futures markets. He pushed, unsuccessfully, to have the CBOT adopt the Eurodollar contract into their list of financial future contracts.
He also prevented the CBOT Board of Directors and former CBOT Chairman Paul McGuire from aborting the introduction of options on ag-futures with his passionate lecture about game-theory and the prisoner's dilemma scenario for ag options. The Board followed Bonen's recommendation and the products flourished during the next 20 years.
After leaving the CBOT he worked for one of the top primary government-trading firm, Discount Corporation of New York Futures, in their Chicago office as an analyst, adviser, and researcher for five years (1987–1992). He prepared the popular daily newsletter, The Bonen Report, which was one of the most respected and often-quoted commentaries from 1987 to 1994 in the national and international financial press. With more than a thousand overnight subscribers to his Faxed newsletter, from almost every major trading firm in the world, his analysis was blended into the coverage by all the major financial publications in the world.
One of his most famous columns was the inspiration for an extremely popular biography about the life and times of "Charlie D" DiFrancesca - a legendary bond trader at the CBOT. The 1997 book was authored by award-winning William Falloon of Chicago and is now being considered as a possible screenplay and movie by several Hollywood producers.
In 1988 Bonen convinced Morton Lane, then President of DCNY Futures, that the CME could greatly expand the trading volume and significance of the CME's near-dormant Eurodollar contract with the simple expansion of back-month strips of contracts. Lane ushered the idea through the CME committee process and pushed the acceptance of the concept. Within a few years the Eurodollar contract became the largest volume contract in the world.
In 1992 Tom bought a seat at the CBOT and became an independent trader and remained an independent adviser to several large institutional global trading firms. He sold his seats in 1996 and turned his energies away from the world of high finance to the world of soccer, broadcasting, journalism and his three small children.
In the late 1990s Tom performed a number of independent management consulting projects including the restructuring of the Chicago Magic Soccer Club (Frankfort, IL) which was later named as the "#1 Youth soccer club in the nation" by Soccer America and other national organizations.
Bonen has been an award-winning sportswriter and regular columnist for the Daily Southtown Newspapers in the south suburbs of Chicago, he has written more than 400 weekly columns over a five years period from 1997 through 2001. He shared the coverage of the Chicago Fire and other professional and national soccer teams with veteran sportswriter Tim Cronin of the Daily Southtown.
Tom was the Chicago "pool reporter" and was singularly the only journalist allowed to speak with the game officials following any professional soccer matches in Chicago. He was a licensed USSF referee and officiated on the club and high school level for more than ten years. He also holds several USSF coaching licenses and founded and ran several community soccer clubs before turning to the media side of the game.
As a sportscaster ---
Tom has been an active TV broadcaster for various cable systems and Fox Sports Chicago in the Chicago area. He has been the play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Stingers of the USL D-III (1998 national champions) and the Chicago Cobras Women's Pro team (1999 national runner-up) as well as many high school and college matches.
He performs the duties of both TV play-by-play and color commentary for many, many prep and college soccer, football, basketball, and volleyball games throughout the year. He also hosted his own one-hour live weekly TV Sports Talk show for AT&T Cable systems—seen throughout the Chicago market in more than 1.7 million homes.
Tom was named the 1997 Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association’s Media Person of the Year for Illinois. He has also been honored as the Sportswriter of the Year by both the Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic League.
He was an active member of the Professional Soccer Writers of America Guild in Chicago.
He still finds time occasionally to do some independent management and portfolio consulting work. In the last two years he has developed more than two dozen unrelated web sites as a web-designer and content contractor including writing and photography.
He has written hundreds and hundreds of free-lance financial and business articles for dozens of most popular newspapers and magazines during the past ten years.
In the late 1990s Tom was the morning host of the two-hour All-Business News Radio Show on several different radio stations in the Chicago market. It was one of the first business specialty radio shows in the country.
In recent years ---- "the golden years"
Tom now spends most of his time as "The Beverly Handyman-Carpenter" and which is called "the best handyman service in the world" by Dan Burns, a local Beverly resident. He specializes in finished carpentry projects, including custom-made bars, kitchens, family rooms and many others.
He has lived with his family in the Beverly-Morgan Park community in Chicago for the past 35 years (since 1974). His wife, Dr. Denise Bonen, was an associate professor at the University of Chicago Medical School in Hyde Park and a top-ranked scientist and medical researcher in the field of genetics. She is currently a Director for Prescott Medical Consulting Group in Chicago and works as a research consultant for many of the top drug companies in the world with new product introductions.
The Bonens have three children: Kelly - born in 1980 (a graduate of Mother McAuley HS (1998) and St. Joseph College (2002) in Rensselear, IN; Ryan - born 1984 (a graduate of Brother Rice HS (2002) and Marquette University (2006) in Milwaukee; Timothy, alias "Scooter", born in 1989 (graduate at Brother Rice HS (2006) in Chicago and is attending Columbia College in Chicago.