Bret Boone carried on All-Star tradition of his father and grandfather
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Bret Boone made history the moment he put on a big league uniform.
But for the final piece of the first three-generation family in baseball annals, the history was just beginning.
Boone, who played 14 major league seasons with the Mariners, Reds, Twins, Braves and Padres, is one of 33 players on the 2011 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the Class of 2011 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Boone is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 5. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 24 in Cooperstown.
Born April 6, 1969, in El Cajon, Calif., Boone entered the world into a baseball family. His grandfather Ray Boone was a two-time All-Star third baseman who spent 13 years in the big leagues with six teams from 1948-60. His father Bob Boone would be drafted by the Phillies two months after Bret was born, and played 19 big league seasons with the Phillies, Angels and Royals – retiring as the all-time leader in games caught.
Bret Boone's first spoken word was "ball."
"I could tell my father and grandfather were excited when I made the majors, but the third-generation thing has never been my focus at all," Bret Boone said. "It's always been about getting to the big leagues as quick as I can and learning as much as I could on the way."
Bret debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 1992 – two years after being taken in the fifth round of the MLB draft out of the University of Southern California. He was dealt to the Reds before the 1994 season, and in Cincinnati he became a regular at second base. He started at the keystone sack for the Reds from 1994-98, winning his first Gold Glove Award and making the All-Star team that final season – a year in which he hit 24 home runs and drove in 95 runs.
Boone was dealt to Atlanta before the 1999 season in the Denny Neagle trade, then was traded to the Padres before the 2000 season. A year to the day after being traded to San Diego, Boone signed a free agent deal that brought him back to the Mariners.
"This is my kind of place," Boone said of Seattle. "I love this place."
Mariners fans loved him, as Boone put together a 2001 season that ranks as one of the best all-time for a second baseman. That year, Boone hit a career-best .331 with 206 hits, 118 runs scored, 37 home runs and an American League-best 141 RBI as Seattle tied the all-time single-season mark with 116 regular-season victories. Boone's RBI total is the fourth-best in history for any second baseman – and the best for any second baseman not named Rogers Hornsby. Only Hornsby, Davey Johnson and Ryne Sandberg ever hit more home runs at second base in one season.
"A big part of that 116-win season was having Bret as an anchor," said former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson.
Boone continued his All-Star caliber play the next three seasons, winning three Gold Glove Awards and averaging 102 RBI. But in 2005, the Mariners traded Boone to the Twins after he hit .231 in the 74 games. The Twins released him three weeks later.
The final totals: 1,775 hits, 366 doubles, 252 home runs, 1,021 RBI, three All-Star Games and four Gold Glove Awards.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum