Bret Boone was born into baseball.
Tony Reid–You had 2,000 cards and probably 1,000 of them mentioned you being a third generation Major League Baseball player after your grandfather Ray and your father Bob. How unique and special was it to be a third generation ball player? How has your prospective changed over the years?
Bret Boone-I look back now at 52 years old, at my career and my family’s career and what they have done in the game and I am very proud of what the family has accomplished. Being the first third generation, as a footnote now and looking back, was very cool and something you appreciate more with time. When I was going through it I almost resented it. I was going through the minor leagues and no matter what I was doing on the field that is all they wanted to talk about it. ‘Do you feel the pressure?’ No I don’t feel the pressure and I am sick of talking about my grandfather. I’m hitting .320. Let’s talk about that. It was more of a burden for me. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
It’s a part of my life and a part of my history. I am very proud of what we accomplished as a family. I didn’t put that much stock into it. My grandfather did what he did. My father did what he did. I did what I did and my brother came along and did what he did. That’s all great but at the time when I was in the Minor Leagues it didn’t matter what gramps or dad did. That wasn’t going to get me to the big leagues, so quit taking about it.
It was a pretty cool thing. We were the first. I have a son now who is in (Class) A ball with the Nationals. He’s on the cusp of being four. Whether that will happen or not, that is up to Jake. I try to keep that away from my son. He has enough on his plate. He doesn’t need to have people ask about his dad, his uncle, his grandpa and his great grandpa. Inevitably, that is a part of who you are and you have to embrace history. It was a proud moment but that was at the bottom of my list at the time of what was important to me.
TR–The back of your 1993 Bowman card states that you are “the second baseman of the very near future and what sets you apart is your rare power for a middle infielder and charismatic nature.”
What was the origin of those traits?
BB-The charismatic nature is just your personality and how you are. I was a pretty brash kid coming up. I was the greatest player of all time and if you didn’t know that, stick around for a while and I will tell you about it. That was a funny time for me. Coming out of college, I was 21 years old and my hair was on fire. All I ever wanted to do was be a big leaguer. I had blinders on. I got through the minors really quick. I got to the big leagues less than two years after I signed.
I remember a wakeup moment for me. Ken Griffey, Jr. and I are basically the same age. I thought I was hot stuff. All of a sudden I was teammates with Ken Griffey, Jr. We were the same age but he was light years older than me just because he was going on his third year in the big leagues. He was an established All Star. I was this guy that thought he was hot stuff. That was a humbling moment for me. You think you are good, well, look who you are playing with now. I always thought he was from a different planet. Kenny was such a gifted player and a once in a lifetime talent. It brings you back to earth. You think you are hot stuff, well, there is someone who is hotter stuff. That was a wakeup moment for me. You get older and you look back and laugh at yourself. I remember being 30 years old and laughing at that 22 year old kid who thought he knew it all. Then I was 40 looking back and laughing at that 30 year old. It is an interesting process and it’s a part of growing up, living life and maturing.
Life is still coming at you. I am 52 and I am pretty well versed in anything Major League Baseball but now I have a son playing in the minor leagues and there are new techniques and ways to train so I am still learning about the game. A lot of stuff in the game today is not my cup of tea but the new technology and knowledge and devices that you have at your fingertips, I am kind of jealous. It really awesome. As much as we think we have been there and done it, and know it all I am still a work in progress today. I still learn things about the game that I thought I knew.
TR–The back of your 1996 Topps Gallery card references the picture on the card front. It states “Bret communes with Cincinnati’s first dog Schottzie 2, who belongs to team owner Marge Schott.” How much was Schottzie 2 around pre and post-game?
BB-Always. They definitely broke the mold with Marge. It seemed like she had that dog on the field every day. The original Schottzie passed away. Marge had collected bags of Schottzie, the dead dog’s hair. Every once in a while I would feel a hand going into my back pocket and it was Marge. She would say ‘Bret, that is for good luck tonight.’ I said ‘What is it Marge?’ She said ‘That is a lock of Schottzie’s hair.’ It was the dead dog’s hair. So, you are a young player and you are looking for that first multi-year deal and the owner of the ball club is doing stuff like that you just put up with it. Ok, Marge, let’s get this multi-year deal done. I will be happy to carry Schottzie’s hair. I will tell you what, as fickle and superstitious as baseball players are, if I would go out that night and get a couple of hits believe me, Schottzie’s hair would be in my back pocket.