Friday, February 3, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #51 Bob Boone


The scene is forever etched in the memory of Phillies fans ... Tug McGraw leaping into the air after striking out Willie Wilson to give the Phillies their first World Championship. The time: 11:29 p.m. The date: October 21, 1980. The place: delirious Veterans Stadium.

Look closely again and you will see No. 8 raising both hands into the air with the historic game ball in his right hand.

Bob Boone, the catcher, had called the fastball that set off a wild Philadelphia celebration. Where is that baseball? "I don't have the slightest idea," recalled Boone, now 57.

Rewind the video a few minutes and you will find Boone in the midst of another play that is in everyone's memory bank. There was one out in the top of the Vet's most famous ninth inning when Frank White hit a bases-loaded pop fly near the Phillies first base dugout. The ball was descending at the far end of the dugout, the farthest distance from Boone's post behind home plate.

Boone started out after the pop fly. "A catcher is supposed to keep going until he is called off by another fielder," said Boone. "Looking back, it seems like ultra slow motion ... I kept going, didn't hear Pete [Rose, the first baseman] and wondered, 'Where in the hell is he?' as I got near the end of the dugout. My worst fear was that we would collide and mess up a key out. Finally, I reached for the ball. It bounced off my mitt right into Rose's glove. I was euphoric.

"I busted my tail to get there and Pete makes the play. Charlie Hustle [Pete's nickname], my foot," laughed Boone.

Boone was raised in big league ballparks. His dad, the late Ray Boone, was an All-Star third baseman with the Detroit Tigers (1948-60). Ray originally was a catcher. Bob took the opposite route, going from a third baseman at Stanford University (Phillies sixth-round selection in 1969) to catcher in the pros. When he took off the playing uniform in 1990 for the final time, he had caught 2,225 games in 19 years, then a record.

With the Phillies (1972-81), Boone caught 1,095 games (second all-time), batted .259, won Gold Gloves in 1978 and 1979, was a three-time All-Star and the man behind the plate and leader of the pitching staff for the 1976-77-78 Division Champions, 1981 first-half champions and the 1980 World Champions. He led all Phillies with a .412 average in the World Series.

He is the seventh member of the 1980 team to be enshrined in the Phillies Wall of Fame and the first catcher.

"I'm very proud, excited and humbled by this honor," he said. "To be recognized by the Phillies is really special. There are so many things about Philly that are a huge part of my life and this honor adds to my memories. I've had a lot of other jobs for other teams, but my roots are with the Phillies. They signed me and I grew up in this city."


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