October 16, 2003.
It’s a day that introduced Aaron Boone to most of the baseball world. Boone, a third baseman who could also play around the infield, was an invaluable part of the Cincinnati Reds organization in the late 1990s. However, after his first and only All-Star Game selection in 2003, the Reds traded him to the Yankees for Charlie Manning, Brandon Claussen, and cash.
Over three seasons in Cincinnati, Claussen would go 15-27 with a 5.11 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP, and 223 K to just 120 BB. Manning would never suit up for the Reds. After half a season at Class-AA Chattanooga, he was dealt back to the Yankees for Gabe White.
Boone, on the other hand, went .254/.302/.418 in the second half for the Yankees, then topped it off by hitting the game-winning home run in Game Seven of the ALCS against the Red Sox.
He would spend the rest of his career in Cleveland, Florida, Washington, and Houston battling various injuries and ailments, and this morning came the worst news of all: Aaron Boone’s season will end while he undergoes open heart surgery.
Growing up in Southwestern Ohio, the Boones – Aaron, Bob, and Bret – were like royalty to me. I knew Ray only by reputation, but these three were all part of the Reds organization during and shortly after my high school years. They were forces in the community – it often seemed like you couldn’t go to a charity event in southwestern Ohio and not run into a Boone.
Aaron’s wife, former playmate Laura Cover, was born in the same hospital as me, just a few weeks after I was.
My heart goes out to the Boones. This is terrible news for the Houston Astros’ family, including all of the Boones. He never played a game for us, but we will embrace him the way we do all of our players. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll ever play competitive baseball again.
Between him and Max Sapp, our former first-round pick who was hospitalized with viral meningitis in December 2008 and has battled ever since, this has largely been an offseason to forget for the Astros. But if anyone knows anything about late-game heroics, it’s Boone. The kid doesn’t know the definition of the word “quit.”