Bret Boone Makes History

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Bret Boone with the Calgary Cannons in 1992 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

On this date in 1992, Bret Boone made his Major League debut and became the first third-generation Major League Baseball player. Boone made his debut with the Seattle Mariners, who he played for through 1993 and again between 2001 and 2005. In his career, he also played for the Cincinnati Reds (1994-98), Atlanta Braves (1999), San Diego Padres (2000), and Minnesota Twins (2005).

Bret’s grandfather, Ray Boone, was the first member of the family to play the game. The elder Boone was born in 1923 and made his Major League debut with the Cleveland Indians in September 1948. After playing for the Detroit Tigers (1953-59), Chicago White Sox (1958-59), Kansas City Athletics (1959), and Milwaukee Braves (1959-60), Ray Boone made his final appearance with the Boston Red Sox on August 11, 1960.

Ray and his wife, Susan, had three children – two boys and a girl. Younger son Rod Boone played in the minor leagues from 1972 to 1975. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1972 from Stanford University and assigned to the Waterloo Royals. He was promoted to the high-A San Jose Bees in 1973 and the double-A Jacksonville Suns in 1974. After being traded to the Astros, he started the 1975 season with the double-A Columbus Astros before being promoted to the triple-A Iowa Oaks.

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Bob Boone in 2012 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Twelve years after Ray’s retirement from baseball, on September 10, 1972, Ray’s older son, Bob Boone, made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bob played in the majors for 18 years, until his retirement in 1990. He played for the Phillies (1972-81), Angels (1982-88), and Royals (1989-90). After his playing career, Bob managed the Kansas City Royals and the Cincinnati Reds. Currently, he is a Vice President and Senior Advisor to the General Manager for Player Development for the Washington Nationals.

Bob Boone had three sons: the aforementioned Bret Boone, born in 1969; Aaron Boone, born in 1973; and Matt Boone, born in 1979. Matt Boone was drafted by the Tigers in 1997. He played in the Tigers’ system from 1997 to 2002, rising to the high-A Lakeland Tigers in 2000 and staying there in 2001 and part of 2002. Be went to the Reds in 2003 and played for both the single-A Dayton Dragons and the rookie-level Gulf Coast Reds. Aaron Boone, on the other hand, spent over 12 years in the Major Leagues and is currently the manager of the New York Yankees.

With any luck, the Boones will add a fourth generation to their MLB Legacy. Bret’s son, Jake Boone, was drafted out of high school by the Washington Nationals (his grandpa’s employer) in the 38th round of the 2017 draft. He was also offered a scholarship to Princeton University, where the 20-year old is about to enter his junior year.

The Sociology of the Family is a fascinating sub-topic in the field of Sociology. Thus, the Sociology of the Baseball Family is an important part of Baseball Sociology. Now that I know more about this historic baseball family, I need to do more research on other baseball families.

~ baseballrebecca










Celebrate Walter Johnson Day on August 2

Walter Johnson, ca. 1910

There’s a lot going on in August. But on Friday, August 2, we should be celebrating “Walter Johnson Day.” There was such a day in 1913, 1927, and several other years. I think there should be more.

As a Washington Nationals fan and Baseball Sociologist, I should know more about Walter Johnson than I do. But it’s hard to get excited about a player who was born in the 19th Century and finished his playing career before even my parents were born. Nonetheless, when I stumbled upon a few references to “Walter Johnson Day,” I have to admit my interest was piqued.

Walter Johnson, known as the Big Train, is arguably the most famous Washington Senator. Born in Humboldt, Kansas, on November 6, 1887, Johnson made his debut with the Senators on August 2, 1907. After two decades, he retired from Major League Baseball as a Washington Senator on September 30, 1927. He would then manage the Newark Bears of the International League in 1928, the Washington Senators from 1929 to 1933, and the  Cleveland Indians from 1933 to 1935.

On August 2, 1913, the Washington Senators celebrated “Walter Johnson Day.” I’m not sure if this was because he was so beloved, or if they just celebrated everyone. I couldn’t even verify if this was the first time the Senators celebrated Walter Johnson Day. We know about this one, however, because President Woodrow Wilson was in attendance that day. According Baseball Reference and the New York Times, the president attended the game to celebrate Johnson’s 6th anniversary. At the game, Johnson was presented with a silver cup filled with 10-dollar bills totaling $500.

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President Calvin Coolidge and Walter Johnson, ca. 1920s (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

It wasn’t clear if Walter Johnson Day was celebrated every year in the years that followed, but it was celebrated again by the Senators on August 2, 1927, Johnson’s 20th anniversary with the team and last season as a player. At that event, Johnson was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross (with 20 diamonds), a silver tea set, and $14,764.05. According to Ted Leavengood’s biography of Clark Griffith (owner of the Senators from 1920 to 1955), a “Walter Johnson Day Committee” was put together for the event, chaired by then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. Leavengood notes, “Clark Griffith brought out every dignitary that he could find to mark the career of the Big Train.” The emcee for the event was Secretary of State Frank Kellogg.

Curiously, the Boston Red Sox had celebrated “Walter Johnson Day” a year earlier at Fenway Park when the Senators were in town on September 4, 1926. Were they predicting his retirement in 1927? Perhaps other teams honored the pitcher as well, like teams celebrate the careers of retiring superstars today? I have so many questions about Walter Johnson Days, for which I was unable to find sufficient answers.

In fact, it seems that “Walter Johnson Day” actually dates back to 1909 when Johnson was playing in the California Winter League with Connie Mack’s barnstorming team, the “All-Nationals.” According to Johnson’s grandson Henry Thomas, in his biography of Johnson, Johnson joined the team in late October after taking some time off after the regular season. Two weeks after his 22nd birthday, on November 15th, “Johnson Day” was held at Chutes Park in Los Angeles. Later, on December 26, when Johnson was with the Santa Ana Yellow Sox, his team held “Johnson Day” and handed out photographs of Johnson to 2,000 fans attending the game. A few years later, during the 1912 off season, Johnson began an annual tradition of hosting charity games in Coffeyville and Humboldt, Kansas. These events also became known as “Walter Johnson Day.”

In 1928, Johnson became the manager of the Newark Bears of the International League. On May 16, when the Bears were in Rochester to play the Red Wings, the city held Walter Johnson day “to repay his act of kindness there in the 1924 World Series,” after which he pitched in a charity game in Rochester, helping raise money for an elderly couple. A month later, Walter Johnson Day was held in Newark, New Jersey, on June 23, 1928, “to honor the great pitcher and to welcome him as new manager of the local International League club,” according to Robert Peyton Wiggins of the Society of American Baseball Research. The final Walter Johnson Day held during his career occurred in Washington on July 22, 1935. According to Thomas, thousands of fans and “old friends” showed their support for Johnson when he was “’under fire’” as the Cleveland Indians’ manager. (Johnson’s “voluntary” resignation from the Indians came a few weeks later.)

On August 2, 2007, 100 years after Walter Johnson’s Major League debut, the Washington Nationals held another “Walter Johnson Day” to honor Johnson’s contributions to the city and its first Major League Baseball team. I don’t recall them celebrating it since. They did, however, add him to their “Ring of Honor” when it was established in 2010. (Of course, Jayson Werth is there, too, soooo…)

Why don’t we have Walter Johnson Days any more, or days honoring current players, for that matter? Sure, there are bobblehead nights, but is that really the same thing? Of course, now that I know more about him, I think the Nats should do a Walter Johnson bobblehead!

So, this Friday, let’s celebrate Walter Johnson Day, or Thurman Munson Day, or whoever you want to celebrate! And next year, let’s make it official!

~ baseballrebecca

An Astronaut’s First Pitch

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren Nationals First PitchIn 2016,  the Washington Nationals’ Presidents donned “space helmets” and moon walked to the finish line of their 4th inning race in honor of a visit by a NASA astronaut.

Just back from spending 141 days on the International Space Station, astronaut Kjell Lindgren visited Nats Park on April 26, 2016. He threw out the first pitch, watched the Presidents’ race  from the finish line, and posed for photos with dignitaries, including the Nationals’ mascot, Screech.

Given the team’s proximity to the U.S. Capitol and NASA Headquarters, the Washington Nationals often host politicians, government officials, and the occasional astronaut. But rarely do the Presidents wear tin foil space helmets!

~ baseballrebecca

Kjell Lindgren at Nationals Park, 2016. (All photos courtesy of NASA.)

Best of the Week: 6/30/2019 – 7/6/2019

After 15 years in Washington, DC, yesterday the Washington Nationals finally paid tribute to their Canadian roots by wearing throwback 1969 Montreal Expos uniforms:

~ baseballrebecca


















Best of the Week: 6/15/2019 – 6/22/2019

Max Scherzer broke his nose and got a black eye at practice last week:

And the Internet loved it:

And then a couple days later it was Scherzer bobblehead night:

~ baseballrebecca






Star Wars Day

64223693_10219629157587479_6597912108526993408_oThis past Saturday was “Star  Wars Day” at the Washington Nationals. It seems like nearly every Major and Minor League team hosts a Star Wars Day during the season, many occurring on or near May the 4th. This one, however, was worth waiting for – especially for the Obi-Sean Kenobi bobblehead! Check out the pics below, including that one of Lando Calrissian as part of the grounds crew. (All photos by Michael George.)

~ baseballrebecca