Name: Robert Raymond Boone
Years as an Angel: 1982-1988
Angels’ Stats: 3033 ABs, 39 HRs, 318 RBIs, 11 SBs, .245 Avg.
Career Stats: 7245 ABs, 105 HRs, 826 RBIs, 38 SBs, .254 Avg.
How He Was Acquired: The Angels bought Bob Boone on December 6, 1981 from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Why You Should Know Him: A 4-time All Star (1976, 1978, 1979, & 1983), and a 7-time gold glove catcher (1978, 1979, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, & 1989), Bob Boone was a defensive standout who was known for his excellent work at handling a pitching staff. He is part of one of the only three-generation families to play in the Major Leagues, and amazingly, part of the first family to produce three generations of All-Star players (his father Ray Boone was an All-Star 3B, and his sons Brett and Aaron were both All-Star infielders).
To understand Boone’s defensive acumen, consider the following: in his seven years as an Angel, Bob Boone threw out 320 would-be base stealers and only allowed 364 stolen bases. That translates to a career catching percentage of 47%! And, Bob Boone did that when Ricky Henderson was terrorizing the American League stealing between 66 and 108 bases a year.
At the same time, Bob Boone only had 33 passed balls as a catcher for the Angels in 961 games caught. He averaged 130 starts behind the dish in his Angels career and only had 76 errors in 5182 chances for a career fielding percentage of .985 with the Angels!
Bob Boone was one of baseball’s most durable catchers. On September 16, 1987, Bob Boone became the official holder for the most games caught in Major League history when he took his place behind the dish against the Kansas City Royals (breaking Al Lopez’s record). He later stretched the record to 2225 games before retiring. His record lasted until 1993 when Carlton Fisk broke it with 2226 games (this was subsequently broken by Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in 2009).
Bob Boone was not known for his bat. He only posted a 245/297/323 line as an Angel. However, one area where he excelled as a batter was in collecting sacrifice hits. In his 7 years with the Angels, Bob Boone managed to post 90 sacrifice hits.
After the 1986 season, Mike Port, the GM for the team, took a very austere approach to negotiating with Bob Boone and other Angels free agents at the time. Port did not even begin to negotiate with Boone until 4 days before a January deadline, after which Boone would be barred from signing with the Angels until May of 1987. The amount of the dispute was a mere $10,000. Although the Angels did resign Boone in May of 1987, the contract dispute led to a lower number of games caught for the year.
At the time of the contract dispute, the owners were engaging in a variety of tactics to keep the price of salaries down. It was later determined that the actions by the owners against players like Bob Boone violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement for baseball. The players filed three different grievances against the owners called Collusion I, II, and III. For his part in Collusion II, Bob Boone was awarded damages and free agency in 1989.
One of the more interesting things about Boone was the cheer he received whenever he came up to bat or was announced during a game. More than one first-time visitor to Angels stadium was shocked that the crowd would greet him with a long “Boooooooooonnne!” Many fans were quite perplexed why the home crowd would greet him warmly with such a chorus of “boos”.
Anecdotes and Quotes: “Catching is much like managing: managers don’t really win games, but they can lose plenty of them. The same way with catching. If you’re doing a quality job you should be almost anonymous.” Interestingly, as a manager for the Kansas City Royals in 1996, Bob Boone used 152 different lineups in 162 games.
Memorable Moments/Games: As a member of the Championship Phillies in 1980, Bob Boone was involved in one of the more memorable defensive plays in the World Series. With 1 out in the top of the 9th, Frank White hit a pop-up down the line by the 1st Base dugout. Bob Boone gave chase and managed to deflect the ball before a hustling Pete Rose came in to catch the ball to record the out to protect the 4-1 lead.
On September 30, 1984, Bob Boone caught Mike Witt’s perfect game.
Where Is He Now?: Presently, Bob Boone works as the Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development for the Washington Nationals.
Contributed by David Saltzer – AngelsWin.com Columnist