Jake Boone hopes to join fam­ily busi­ness

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Sports - By Ron­ald Blum

Jake Boone takes grounders on a chilly, wind-swept di­a­mond, a month into his fresh­man sea­son at Prince­ton Univer­sity, hop­ing to fol­low Ray, Bob, Bret & Aaron and make his the first four­gen­er­a­tion fam­ily of ma­jor lea­guers.

“I know it’s long and hard,” the 19-year-old says. “The mi­nor leagues I know is just a grind — it’s a grind just get­ting there. You’re just lucky to have an op­por­tu­nity to try to make it, so I hope that I get that op­por­tu­nity.”

His fam­ily has been, well, a boon to base­ball.

Jake’s dad, Bret, was a three-time All- Star and four-time Gold Glove sec­ond base­man in a big league ca­reer from 1992-05. Un­cle Aaron is the first-year man­ager of the Yan­kees, made one All- Star ap­pear­ance while play­ing from 19972009 and hit the un­ceas­ingly re­played home run that won the 2003 AL pen­nant for New York. Grandpa Bob was a four-time All-Star catcher from 1972-90, then man­aged Kansas City from 1995- 97 and Cincin­nati from 2001-03. Jake’s great grand­fa­ther Ray was a twotime All-Star in­fielder from 1948-60.

The fam­ily has high hopes of Jake con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion

“He can re­ally play the mid­dle in­field, which helps,” Aaron says. “You never know, if he con­tin­ues to de­velop.”

Bob main­tains it is too soon to project whether Jake will get a chance to boost the al­ready im­pres­sive fam­ily statis­tics: 6,569 games, 5,890 hits and 634 home runs.

“He can re­ally field. He’s go­ing to be a tal­ented kid,” Bob says. “Real shot? I can’t say real shot. But a shot, though.”

Prince­ton has no names on its jer­seys but Jake’s back­ground pre­cedes his boy­ish face, dark­ened to a de­gree by the slight stub­ble that is de rigueur of a prospect. He has un­com­mon pedi­gree and prepa­ra­tion, and like peb­bles on an in­field has soaked in years of base­ball from just be­ing around.

He played at Tor­rey Pines High School in San Diego, where for­mer big league pitcher Kirk McCaskill is head base­ball coach. He was se­lected by Wash­ing­ton on the 38th round of last June’s am­a­teur draft; grandpa is a Na­tion­als vice pres­i­dent and se­nior ad­viser to the gen­eral man­ager.

Prince­ton’s coach is Scott Bradley, a big league catcher for nine sea­sons who has led the Tigers to seven Ivy League ti­tles in 20 sea­sons so far and pro­duced a half­dozen play­ers who have ap­peared in big league games, in­clud­ing pitch­ers Chris Young and Ross Oh­len­dorf, and out­fielder Will Ven­able.

“He’s very aware of the game and has those in­stincts. I’m not go­ing to take credit for teach­ing him that. You’re born with those,” Bret says. “I re­mem­ber when I was 18 years old, I was get­ting the same ques­tions. And you get sick of them af­ter a while be­cause you’re try­ing to kind of pave your own way.”

The House of Boone is to base­ball what that Roo­sevelts, Kennedys and Bushes are to pol­i­tics. The Boones be­came the first three-gen­er­a­tion base­ball fam­ily when Bret made his big league de­but and have since been joined by the Bells, Cole­mans, Hairstons and Schofield/Werth lines — plus the Runges, if um­pires are in­cluded. Jake was 6when his dad played his fi­nal big league game in 2005.

“I can re­mem­ber when we lived in Seat­tle. He was on the Mariners. We got to go to all the home games,” Jake re­calls. “I re­mem­ber hang­ing out with the other play­ers’ kids in the kid room, wait­ing for the game to end so we all could see our dads.”

At 5-10, 170 pounds, Jake still needs to grow into his body and get stronger. He is hit­ting .182 (10 for 55) with three RBIs and seven er­rors, play­ing sec­ond at short­stop on a team that is 8-16 over­all but 5-4 in the Ivies. He is ad­just­ing to col­lege ball on a team in the North­east that starts against tough op­po­nents in the south and then plays home games in cold he never ex­pe­ri­enced in Cal­i­for­nia.

Jake was a three-sport ath­lete through el­e­men­tary school, dropped bas­ket­ball in mid­dle school and foot­ball in high school. He played club ball for the Ran­cho Santa Fe Ti­tans from age 8 through his fresh­man year at Tor­rey Pines, then switched to the Cal­i­for­nia Bears. He cap­tained his high school tea­mas a se­nior and hit .353.

Prince­ton won him over at first sight when he vis­ited in the sum­mer of 2016.

“You know there’s so much his­tory here, and you’re in class­rooms where some of the bright­est minds hon­estly be­fore me have sat and have taught,” he says. “Just the idea that Ein­stein was a pro­fes­sor here for a lit­tle bit is just crazy to think about.”

First se­mes­ter classes in­cluded his­tory of the Ro­man Em­pire, Span­ish 101, micro­eco­nomics and a re­quired fresh­man writ­ing sem­i­nar. This se­mes­ter’s work­load is cal­cu­lus — “my hard­est class” — Span­ish 102, macro­eco­nomics and his­tory of the late an­tiq­uity.

He is lean­ing to­ward be­com­ing an eco­nom­ics ma­jor but doesn’t have to de­clare for an­other year.

Be­cause of af­ter­noon classes and labs, Bradley rarely is able to gather his en­tire ros­ter for prac­tices.

“He’s been ex­tremely low main­te­nance. He just does the work that he’s sup­posed to do. He takes care of all the aca­demic side of things, and he loves be­ing down on the base­ball field,” Bradley says. “It’s base­ball roy­alty, that’s for sure. I played against Bob for a long time, sort of at the end of his ca­reer, when I was get­ting started, and then one of my last years with the Mariners Bob was in camp with us and I picked his brain and I got a chance to know him a lit­tle bit, and prob­a­bly helped me out more in a month of spring train­ing than any catch­ing in­struc­tor that I ever had.”

And then Bradley got a chance to know Bret from 1990-92 when they were to­gether in the Mariners or­ga­ni­za­tion. Bret had hoped to sign out of high school but wasn’t picked un­til the 28th round by Min­ne­sota. He spent three years at South­ern Cal, then was cho­sen by Seat­tle in the fifth round.

Bret ap­pre­ci­ates his son’s fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion.

“I went to col­lege and I didn’t care about school. I was a base­ball player — and I re­ally be­lieved that. I was very naive,” Bret says. “That’s where me and Jake dif­fer. Jake’s a re­al­ist and he’s very con­sci­en­tious about get­ting his school work done and be­ing a great stu­dent, whereas I was just blin­ders on.”


Prince­ton Tigers’ Jake Boone, left, looks over the field be­fore their game against the Mon­mouth Hawks in Prince­ton, N.J., Thurs­day. Boone is try­ing to put him­self in po­si­tion to make his the first four-gen­er­a­tion ma­jor league fam­ily. His great-grand­fa­ther, Ray, was a two-time All-Star in­fielder from 1948-60. His grand­fa­ther, Bob, was a four-time All-Star catcher from 1972-90, then man­aged Kansas City from 1995-97and Cincin­nati from 2001-03. His fa­ther Bret, was a three-time All-Star sec­ond base­man in a big league ca­reer from 1992-05. And un­cle Aaron is man­ag­ing the New York Yan­kees.

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