The Obit For Ray Boone

First of Boones in majors dies of heart attack at 81

By Bill Center

October 18, 2004

Ray Boone once joked that he had gone directly from being the "second-best baseball player ever at Hoover High to the patriarch" of the game's first three-generation family of major league players.

But in between Ted Williams and Bob, Bret and Aaron Boone, the native San Diegan had a distinguished career as a major league player and scout that spanned 5½ decades.

Boone, 81, died early yesterday morning of a heart attack after being hospitalized since May 19 due to complications of surgery he underwent for stomach and internal problems.

"After having several setbacks, Dad was getting better when he suffered the heart attack," said Bob Boone last night.

"A great player, a great scout and a great friend, and his record as a father and husband speaks for itself," longtime friend and former Cleveland Indians manager Dave Garcia said recently while talking about Ray Boone, who graduated from Hoover in 1942 and made it to the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1948.

Boone hit .275 with 151 home runs and 737 RBI in a career that spanned 13 seasons and six teams (all but one in the American League). He was an American League All-Star in 1954 and 1956 with Detroit and retired following the 1960 season with Boston.

Wanting to be close to his family in San Diego, Boone immediately accepted a scouting position with the Red Sox in 1961 – an association that remained active and uninterrupted until his death.

Ray and Pat Boone, high school sweethearts who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Oct. 12, raised three of the area's top athletes.

Bob Boone was a three-sport standout at Crawford High who went to Stanford and held the all-time major league record for games caught when he retired after 19 seasons in 1990.

Another son, Rod Boone, was also an all-section baseball standout at Crawford and Stanford who played in the Houston organization.

And daughter Terry (Strandemo) was a champion swimmer who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1968.

Bob's two sons – Bret and Aaron – followed their father and grandfather into the major leagues. Bret played for the Padres in 2000.

"We were the first three-generation family in the major leagues," Pat Boone said last night. "We're not the only one anymore, but we were the first."

The Boones are also the only family with three generations to have played in baseball's All-Star Game.

Besides his wife, two sons and daughter, Ray Boone is survived by nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"Dad loved being a father and a grandfather," Bob Boone said last night. "He could have kept playing in 1960 and he had other opportunities in baseball. But he wanted to scout and stay at home. He didn't like being away from home."

Boone, who also served in the Navy at the end of World War II, made his major league debut as a backup infielder on the 1948 Cleveland team that won the American League pennant. The following year, in only his second season as a shortstop, he replaced player-manager Lou Boudreau as the starter. He played with Cleveland until he was traded to Detroit early in the 1953 season.

"He was an outstanding player," Padres announcer Jerry Coleman recalled of Boone last night.

"Ray was a great hitter and a solid player in every aspect of the game. He made one of the toughest transitions possible. He started his playing career as a catcher and played in the majors as a shortstop and third baseman. You just don't see that very often.

"But Ray was the type of player who could pull it off. And he was a marvelous person."

Boone's best seasons came as a Tiger during the mid-1950s.

He hit .296 with 26 homers and 114 RBI with the Indians and Tigers in 1953, .295 with 20 homers and 85 RBI with Detroit in 1954, .284 with 20 homers and a league-leading 116 RBI in 1955 and .308 with Detroit in 1956.

While his exploits as a player and father are well-documented, perhaps Boone's top skill in baseball was as a scout. The first player he signed – before the implementation of the June draft – was a 1961 Hoover High pitcher named Dave Morehead who later pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox. Boone later signed Curt Schilling out of little-known Yavapai College in Arizona. His other local signees included Sam Horn, Phil Plantier, Tim Blackwell and Tony Muser, now the Padres' bench coach.

"He was a great scout," Tigers pitching coach Bob Cluck recalled of Ray Boone last night. "When I started scouting several years ago, I sat between Ray, Garcia and Bob Skinner and realized how much I wasn't seeing. And Ray was a great teacher of the game."

Earlier this year, the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation decided to honor an exemplary baseball family each year. The award will be known as the Boone Family Award.

Services for Ray Boone will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at the First United Methodist Church, 772 S. Johnson, El Cajon. The family has asked that donations be made to the church in lieu of flowers.