Bret Boone was born into baseball.
Tony Reid-You grew up in baseball and had a fantastic career in your own right. Do you remember being asked for your autograph for the first time?
Bret Boone-I remember as a little kid, just because of who my dad was, I would be down at the ballpark in Philadelphia and the fans would be in the stands and I would be paying catch or something. I had my uniform on and they knew I was Bob Boone’s son. Fans would say from time to time ‘Hey you are going to be a ballplayer someday. Can I get your autograph?’
What do you do as a little kid when an adult asks you to sign something? I said ‘Sure!’ This was a pretty young age. I was eight or 10 years old. My dad would step in and say ‘No. He doesn’t sign autographs.’ My dad kind of detoured me and got me away from that. He didn’t want me signing autographs, for whatever his reasons were. I think the first legitimate autograph I signed was in college. I was at a regional in Fresno, California. The autograph hounds started to come out. That was the first time I signed a real autograph. When you sign professionally you go to A Ball and that’s where it really starts.
TR–Your very first card ever produced was in the 1988 Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks collegiate league set. Your true rookie card was the 1991 Bowman card. What were the first cards you saw of yourself?
BB-I remember seeing the Fairbanks card. I do really remember that Bowman because when you are a rookie and you are coming up you wonder what your official rookie card will be. I think I had a Leaf and a Bowman. On the Leaf I had a road uniform on and I was hitting. On the Bowman I am standing there with the bat and it’s almost like a painting.
TR–You have 2,000 cards in the database. Do you have a favorite Bret Boone card?
BB-We usually like the cards that we think we look good in. You will get a card where they caught you at a bad angle or your uniform was untucked and it looks horrible. I don’t necessarily have a favorite card. In my generation and the time I was breaking in, cards were at a premium. It’s not unique to have 2,000 cards. That what they did back then. I have probably seen the majority of them. Once in a while one will pop up that I haven’t seen before. I think the ones you mentioned at the top of the interview were those rookie cards. That Bowman and that Leaf, for some reason, are in my head. You are told coming up ‘Theses are your rookie cards.’ I think I have special draw to those cards.
TR–With your long and successful career in baseball, do you have a mancave or a room with memorabilia displayed?
BB-When I first retired we had built a house that I have since sold. In there I had the whole memorabilia and bar room. I had a lot of cool stuff displayed. I had lockers and one was a family locker. I had my grandpa’s jersey, my dad’s jersey, my brother’s jersey and mine. I had a really cool display. It showcased the teams I was on and teammates that I was close with where I had their uniforms. Those are all in storage now. In my office now I have the Gold Gloves and the Silver Sluggers and a few items from the family. As far as sports memorabilia over the years, that all in storage now.
TR–With your upbringing this may be a loaded question but what players did you gravitate towards as a kid?
BB-I really didn’t gravitate towards anyone in particular. I was a baseball rat. I grew up in Philadelphia. Dad, from 1972 to 1981, my formative childhood years, was the catcher for the Phillies. My favorite team was the Phillies. He would take me to the ballpark. I got to shag balls during batting practice. I genuinely didn’t have a favorite. I liked all the guys. I would hang out with the second baseman Manny Trillo. I would spend time with Larry Bowa. Greg Luzinski was there. Mike Schmidt was there. Pete Rose was there. Gary Maddox and Bake McBride were there. I didn’t have a favorite guy. They were all my buddies. Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw were all my buddies.
As I got older, and this has nothing to do with the man himself, but Pete Rose, as a ballplayer, was special. He epitomized what it meant to play the game and how he went about his business. It was that workman mentality and he was there to kick your butt every day. He didn’t give up at bats. Going 4-4 wasn’t good enough. He needed to have that fifth hit in that fifth at bat. He wasn’t happy if he didn’t get it. That is something Pete brought to the table that is very unique that I haven’t seen in many other players. He was entertaining, charismatic, in your face and he played the game right.
We’ll have a Card Back Q&A with Bret Boone later this week.
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