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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 233

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This is the grave of Ray Boone.

Born in 1923 in San Diego, Boone was a star baseball player in high school. The Cleveland Indians signed him after high school and he played a bit in their minor league system in 1942 before joining the Navy, where he stayed until the end of World War II. After the war’s conclusion, he returned to the Indians farm system and reached the big leagues in 1948. He had a long career as a more than serviceable infielder. He was a shortstop for many years before switching to third base and then ending his career, as many older players do, at first base. He played more games at third than any other position. He was just kind of OK in his early years, but peaked a bit late, having his best years in his late 20s and early 30s. His best years were in 1953 and 1954. Midway in 1953, Cleveland traded him to Detroit, but as a whole that season he hit 296/390/519 with 26 HRs and 114 RBIs. He led the league in RBIs in 1955, with 116. He made the AL All-Star Team in 1954 and 1956 and received MVP votes in 1953 and 1955. By 1958, he fell off pretty significantly and shuffled around the league, playing for several teams before retiring at the end of the 1960 season. Unfortunately, Boone rarely played for good teams; in part because this was the era of the peak Yankees dominance, his only postseason appearance was with the 48 Indians, his rookie season, when he struck out in his only at-bat. Baseball Reference ranks him as the 84th best third baseman in the game’s history.

After he retired, Boone was a scout for the Red Sox for much of the rest of his life. He was also known for being the scion of the greatest three-generation baseball family. His son Bob was a very good catcher and his grandsons Bret and Aaron both had long and successful careers. Aaron hit the most unfortunate home run in major league history. Meanwhile, Bret was a great player for a couple of years in Seattle, after being pretty marginal earlier in his career with Cincinnati. But as a Mariners fan while Bret was at his peak, he was extremely unlikable. For a team without a lot of success, the Mariners have had a lot of great players. Most of them were hugely popular with the fans–Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro, Jay Buhner, Randy Johnson, John Olerud, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, King Felix. Even Alex Rodriguez wasn’t considered a jerk until after he signed with Texas, and that was unfair. Adrian Beltre was something of an exception, but that’s because the configuration of left field in Safeco completely ate up years of his power. But Bret Boone was a massive douche, even as he was a key catalyst on some great teams. He hasn’t exactly helped his reputation in recent years by saying horrible right-wing things.

Ray Boone died in 2004 and is buried in El Camino Memorial Park, San Diego, California.

If you would like this series to cover more third basemen, you can donate to cover the necessary expenses here. If we use Baseball Reference as a guide, the top two third basemen with graves to visit are Eddie Matthews, buried in Santa Barbara, and Home Run Baker, buried in Easton, Maryland. I should go visit them. Unfortunately, Ron Santo had his ashes scattered, so no luck there. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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