MLB Father’s Day: Boone family tradition continues

Major League Baseball celebrates Father’s Day along with the rest of the country today, and one MLB family has more to celebrate than most.

When I was a kid, my hometown MLB team, the Philadelphia Phillies, introduced a young catcher by the name of Bob Boone.

Boone was 24 years old when he made his Phillies debut in September of 1972. It was the start of a full decade stretch as the Fightin’ Phils’ primary catcher. During that time the club would capture five NL East crowns, counting the first half of the 1981 split-season.

Boone was the starting catcher for the 1980 World Series champions, receiving the pitch that Tug McGraw would throw past Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to clinch that first-ever title in franchise history.

Traded to the then California (now Los Angeles) Angels for the 1982 season, Boone would ultimately play into his 40s.

In 2005, Boone was elected to the Phillies Wall of Fame, the seventh member of that 1980 championship team so honored.

At some point while I was growing up, I learned that Boonie was a second-generation big leaguer. His father, Ray Boone, was an infielder who had spent 13 seasons in Major League Baseball.

The elder Boone came up as a shortstop with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He would play in 974 of his 1,373 big league games on the left side of the infield. Boone played in 464 games at short and in 510 games at third base. He also appeared in 285 games at first base, and played second base once.

The two Boones were a rarity in the annals of MLB history. They were just the third father-son combination to become big league All-Stars. Ray was an AL All-Star in 1954 and 1956 while with the Detroit Tigers. Bob would make the NL All-Star team three times (1976, ’78, ’79) and was also a 1983 AL All-Star with the Angels.

FOLLOWING IN THEIR FATHER’S, AND GRANDFATHER’S, FOOTSTEPS

That would be an incredible enough legacy for most families. But it turns out that the Boone family was just getting started.

In early April of 1969 while Bob was a third baseman with the Phillies’ A-level team at Raleigh-Durham, his wife Sue gave birth to a son.

In August 1992, the Seattle Mariners called up that son, second baseman Bret Boone, to make his big league debut. With that appearance, the Boones became the very first three-generation family in MLB history.

Bret would also continue the family All-Star legacy. He was a three-time AL All-Star with the Mariners. Bret would also win four Gold Glove awards and a pair of Silver Sluggers over a 14-year MLB career.

While Bob was at spring training prior to his first full season with the Phillies in March 1973, Sue gave birth to another son. You can guess what would happen.

On June 20, 1997, the Cincinnati Reds promoted 24-year-old third baseman Aaron Boone to the big leagues. In the 2003 season, Aaron would join the Boone All-Star contingent.

Aaron would ultimately play in a dozen MLB seasons. While with New York Yankees in 2003, his ALCS-winning walk-off home run became one of the most famous postseason moments in the long and glorious history of the Bronx Bombers.

FOURTH GENERATION ON THE WAY?

Ray passed away in October of 2004, so he got to enjoy his son’s and then much of his grandsons’ careers. It is entirely fair to say that the Boone family has much to celebrate on Father’s Day already.

And yet it may not be over. Just this past week, the Boones took a step toward becoming the first-ever FOUR-generation family in Major League Baseball history.

In the 38th round of the MLB Amateur Draft, the Washington Nationals selected middle infielder Jake Boone out of Torrey Pines High School in San Diego. Jake is Bret’s son, Aaron’s nephew, Bob’s grandson and Ray’s great-grandson.

His draft position may ultimately mean that Jake passes up the opportunity to turn pro right now. That, and the fact that he is a potential Ivy Leaguer, with a scholarship opportunity to Princeton University waiting for him.

Whether Jake ever reaches the big leagues, the Boone family has left a legacy that will be forever remembered as long as Major League Baseball is played. And if Jake does find his way to MLB one day, well, who’s to say will it end there?

I feel confident in saying that at some point in the next decade, if history is any guide, Jake will become father to a son. By the 2030s, that youngster will be playing the game somewhere on the sandlots of America, trying his best to become the fifth generation of Boones to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Happy Father’s Day to the Boone family, and to all fathers out there who love and enjoy the great American pastime of baseball.

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