July 21, 2018

Bret Boone: Recalling His Life in Baseball

July 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Boones are baseball family royalty with Ray, Bob, Aaron and Bret having played, and played at high levels, across three generations. The quartet combined for 5,890 hits and 634 home runs, providing indisputable statistical proof of their enormous impact on the game. Bret, who enjoyed a 14 year career as a second baseman from 1992-2005 was a star on both sides of the ball and more than did his part to uphold his family’s legacy.

Bret, the son of Bob and brother to Aaron (Ray is his grandfather) grew up in the game, as his father was in the midst of a 19-year major league career during his youth. With talent derived from genetics, hard work and the ability to be exposed to the game, Boone attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he blossomed into a star. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners in 1990.

Boone made quick work of the minor leagues, earning a promotion to the majors in 1992. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds following the 1993 season, but returned to Seattle later in his career; also playing for the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins along the way.

The best season of Boone’s career came in 2001 when he hit .331 with 37 home runs and a league-leading 141 RBIs, which helped him finish third in MVP voting.

Although he had brief spring training dalliances with the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, Boone’s final major league season was in 2005 with the Twins. All told, he hit a combined .266 with 252 home runs and 1,021 RBIs in his 14 seasons. He was a three-time All Star and won four Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. He was also a key member of three playoff teams, including the 1999 Braves, who lost the World Series that year to the New York Yankees.

Boone’s son Jake may end up carrying on the family legacy for a fourth generation, as he has starred in baseball at Princeton University and was a 2017 draft pick of the Nationals. It’s hard to imagine a more formidable familial chain than the Boones, who are only continuing to build on their impressive body of work.

Bret Boone Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I never had a favorite player. I grew up in MLB clubhouses, so I really enjoyed all the players. That being said, if I picked a childhood favorite now it would be Pete Rose. It was how he played the game, and Dad for how he went about the game. He taught me how to act like a pro.

Can you describe your draft experience with the Seattle Mariners in 1990- How did you find out you had been selected?: I got a phone call from Mariners, and that year I was projected to be a top-50 pick, so when they told me I was their fifth-round pick I was pissed. Looking back now, I laugh, because as my dad told me, it doesn’t matter, cause if you’re not good enough, you’ve got to go get a job anyway. Lol

Can you please describe what influence being part of a “baseball family” has had on you; particularly with your father and grandfather having lengthy MLB careers?: When people ask me how much it helped me coming from a three-generation family I had one answer….I don’t know how much it helped me, but I know it didn’t hurt.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: I stayed up all night; couldn’t sleep. Got on a plane; first time in first class. There was a businessman sitting next to me who asked where I was headed, and I laid it out for him. Told him I was going to the big leagues and told him to watch, and that in my 1st at bat I was gonna hit a bullet somewhere. I got to the park, did a press conference, took a few hacks, got a base hit, and RBI  off Arthur Rhodes,(same guy I got my first minor league hit off of) turned a double (play) to end the game, then a month later was sitting there hitting .197, lol. It was time to make an adjustment.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?: Barry Bonds was the best player I’ve ever seen, no one was even close. He had an ability to slow the game down, unexplainable. Ken Griffey, Jr. was best player I ever played with.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: A lot of great memories. First game; first All Star game; first Gold Glove; first post season; the entire 2001 season. All great memories.

Who was the toughest, nastiest pitcher you ever faced?: A lot of great pitchers, but mid 90’s Braves (Greg) Maddux, (John) Smoltz, and (Tom) Glavine were as tough as it got.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?: Take time to sit back and enjoy what I got to do for a living. You tend to go, go, go and sometimes we fail to sit back and smell the roses. That’s my advice to all young players.

What are you up to since retiring as a player?: I coach my kids, play golf, do charity events, and do the best I can to be a great dad.

Andrew Martin is the founder of “The Baseball Historian” blog where he posts his thoughts about baseball on a regular basis. You can also reach him on Twitter at @historianandrew or on Facebook.

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