07/14/2003 9:14 PM ET
Boone family ready for 'special time'
CHICAGO -- The 74th All-Star Game won't be the first brother act performed by
Bret and Aaron Boone.
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
They frequently tagged along with their dad, Bob Boone, when he caught for
the Philadelphia Phillies in the late 1970s. By 1979, when Bret was 10 years old and Aaron
was 6, they did more than just don miniature uniforms and serve as batboys at
"They'd go to center field during batting practice and catch flies behind
their backs," said Bob Boone, now the Cincinnati Reds' manager. "Tug McGraw
taught them. They were really, really good at it. And Bret was especially
little. So you had these two little kids catching these tremendous shots to the
wall behind their backs. The crowd would go nuts."
The throng at U.S. Cellular Field for Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic isn't
likely to rave over either Boone, unless one of them performs a spectacular
feat. The pro-White Sox crowd won't marvel much over the mere presence of Aaron,
the Reds' third baseman, or Bret, the Seattle Mariners' second baseman.
But this game will mean plenty to the Boones, if only because it adds another
chapter to their rich history as one of the game's select three-generation
families. Ray Boone, the clan's patriarch, was an All-Star infielder in 1954
and '56 with Detroit. Bob was a four-time All-Star. They'll attend the game,
along with several other relatives close to Bret and Aaron: their brother,
Matt, a minor league infielder in the Cincinnati system; their wives; and their
mother, Sue; among others.
"It's more than a dream come true. It's going to be a special time. I'm going to try to savor and enjoy every moment I can."
-- Aaron Boone
"Everyone's kind of coming together," said Aaron, who is now 30. "It's more than a dream
come true. It's going to be a special time. I'm going to try to savor and enjoy
every moment I can."
The Boones have grown accustomed to such milestones, with Bret leading the
way in this generation since he broke into the Major Leagues in 1992. As a
member of the Reds, he was already an established player when Aaron's brief
stints with the club in 1997 and '98 enabled them to be teammates. Bret is
making his third All-Star appearance. Aaron is making his first.
But because Aaron is present, this might be Bret's fondest All-Star Game yet.
"When I got picked [to the American League squad], of course I was excited
about it," said Bret, 34. "But I think I was more excited for Aaron, knowing
it's his first one and how excited he would be."
With Grandpa Ray and Papa Bob as examples, Bret and Aaron almost seemed
destined to become the 14th set of brothers to be selected as All-Stars -- and only the eighth in the same year.
"We never pushed them in any way, but we never held them back," Bob Boone
said. "They worked tremendously hard. The things they accomplished with their
talent were from brutally hard work."
Still, that ability was evident rather quickly.
As Bob recalled, Bret began walking when he was six months old. "He never
crawled," Bob said.
When Bob played in the Puerto Rican Winter League in 1972,
Bret kept busy by hitting tennis balls with Frank Robinson.
Bret displayed the agility he relies upon at second base rather early, also.
He enrolled in a gymnastics class at age 5 and, as Bob remembered, amazed
onlookers by leading a group of young athletes around the gym floor while
walking on his hands.
Then there was the time shortly afterward that Bob
returned from a road trip.
"I was sitting in our family room, and Bret says,
'Dad, look what I can do,' and he does this complete backflip. I almost
fainted," Bob said.
Aaron didn't do anything so prodigious. He just did everything well.
"For pure athleticism," said Bob, "he's the best of all the Boones."
Bob insisted that Aaron could have played basketball or football in college.
"He was a good point guard," Bob said. "And as a wide receiver, he had a knack
of getting open anytime."
Together, they meshed well.
Despite being nearly four years older, Bret allowed Aaron to accompany him
during sandlot games, bicycle rides and almost everything else kids do.
"We were really close," Aaron said. "He was an awesome brother. He always
dragged me with him. In a lot of ways, playing basketball, football and whatever
we played with him and his friends throughout the year -- and sometimes getting
picked on and knocked around -- kind of helps shape you in a lot of ways. That's
one thing I'm really grateful for and one reason I look back on my childhood as
a great time."
One of their favorite activities was a precursor to their current profession:
Wiffle ball, whether they were in Medford, N.J., while Bob was playing for the
Phillies, or in Placentia, Calif., when Bob was with the California Angels.
"We had a great Wiffle ball backyard when we were kids," Aaron said. "We used
to play all day long. All day long. We had a fence that was almost like a
Such activities subsided as Bret entered high school. But the Boone brothers
kept developing and improving, progressing along paths that have brought them
together again at the All-Star Game.
Asked what aspect of his brother's game he admires most, Aaron said, "Gosh,
he's getting so good. He's been so consistent on defense. The way he turns the
double play, what his defense has meant to his teams over the years. And he's
learned what it takes to be successful as a hitter."
Presented with the same question, Bret said, "Aaron knows how to play the
game. He plays it right. He's a smart player. That's what I watch the most. When
people ask me about him, I don't talk about his numbers. I just say, 'He knows
how to play the game.' Not everybody does."
Beyond the statistics and the team affiliations, Bret and Aaron are united in
their passion for the game.
"Bret was fiery," said All-Star Dmitri Young, the Detroit Tiger who formerly
played with both brothers in Cincinnati. "He was a gamer, especially once he got
on the field. You could feed off of that energy. And Aaron has that same energy,
too. I guess it's that third-generation blood."
Chris Haft is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its