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Washington Nationals’ prospect Jake Boone: No pressure to make history

Nats’ infield prospect is the son and grandson of former big leaguers; his grandfather Bob Boone was an All-Star catcher and is senior advisor to Mike Rizzo …

Photo © and courtesy Beverly Schaefer.

WASHINGTON – His father, infielder Bret Boone, played for several years with the Mariners and also for the Reds, Braves, Padres, and Twins.

His grandfather, Bob Boone, was an All-Star catcher and is a familiar sight around Nationals Park as a member of the Nationals’ front office as a senior advisor to general manager Mike Rizzo.

But the first memories of the big leagues for Jake Boone, 21, have nothing to do with a Major League stadium.

“I would say the first thing I can remember was Spring Training when I was maybe five years old, going to Spring Training games in Arizona,” Boone told Federal Baseball in an exclusive recent interview.

Boone turned five on March 23, 2004 – the spring his father was getting ready for another season with the Mariners.

Bret Boone broke in with the Mariners in 1992, went to the Reds in 1994 and then returned to Seattle for the 2001 season.

Jake Boone and his family were good friends with the family of former Seattle lefty pitcher Jamie Moyer, who was with the Mariners from 1996-2006, and former closer Trevor Hoffman, who pitched for the hometown Padres (based in Arizona for Spring Training) from 1993 to 2008. “We would go to the games together and watch our dads,” Boone said.

Now Jake Boone is trying to make a name for himself – and be part of the first four-generation family in the majors.

Photo © and courtesy Beverly Schaefer.

“I get asked that all of the time – do I feel pressure to be this fourth-generation big leaguer? Honestly, I don’t feel the pressure. When I hear something like that I feel it’s just an amazing opportunity I have,” Jake Boone said.

He signed this summer with the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent, turning down a chance to play his fourth and final year for Division I Princeton of the Ivy League. He was drafted by the Nationals in the 28th round in 2017 after his senior year of high school but decided to attend Princeton.

His grandfather, Ray, was born in San Diego, went to Herbert Hoover High there and played in the majors from 1948-60. Ray Boone passed away in San Diego in 2004 at the age of 81.

Bob Boone, who also was born in San Diego, played in college at Southern California and then in the Major Leagues from 1972-90.

For good measure his uncle, Aaron, went to USC and played in the majors from 1997 to 2009 as an infielder – including 2008 with the Nationals.

He is now the manager of the New York Yankees, who opened the past season at Nationals Park.

All together, the Boone family has won two World Series titles, 11 Gold Glove awards, and made 10 All-Star appearances.

But that doesn’t bother Jake Boone, who was born in Orlando then was eight when the family moved from Seattle to San Diego after his father retired from playing.

“When I hear something like that, I feel it’s just an amazing opportunity I have. With what my family has already done and the challenge that has been presented to me, to be that fourth, it is not pressure. It is more exciting for me to have that chance,” he said after taking part in Instructional League this fall.

The infield prospect got his first introduction to pro ball as he was part of Instructional League that wrapped up last week in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Photo © and courtesy Beverly Schaefer.

“Oh, I have pretty good idea of what it takes to play pro baseball,” he told himself before heading to Florida. “When you get to instructs you realize there is so much to learn.”

“I was so happy I got that opportunity to go out there. I felt it opened my eyes to all of the things that I can learn and give me a great director for going into this first off-season and Spring Training.

“Instructional ball was awesome for me and I really appreciate the opportunity the Nats gave me.”

His roommate at Instructional League was fellow infielder Quade Tomlin, signed this year out of his Virginia high school as he turned down a chance to play at Division I Liberty University in his hometown of Lynchburg.

The father of Tomlin also played in the majors – Randy Tomlin pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Quade Tomlin also was a NDFA from this summer.

“He is a very mature kid for his age,” Boone said of Tomlin. “He worked hard; he fit in really well with all of those guys.”

Boone said the uncertainty of college athletics in light of the virus played a role in his decision to turn pro.

“Around the middle of the summer, this past summer, Princeton started coming out with their plans.

“I talked with my coaches at Princeton and how they say this next year is looking like athletically,” he said.

There was a lot of uncertainty and the Ivy League eventually became the first Division I conference to call off the fall season.

Meanwhile, Boone talked to his family.

“We ended up landing on the decision to sign professionally and the Nats gave me an opportunity to do that. That is how it ended up coming together,” he said.

Boone continues to work on a degree in economics from Princeton.

He and some of his baseball teammates from Princeton are renting a house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina so they can be together one final time while doing course work.

Boone is taking four courses this semester and will take two more courses next semester. Once he writes his thesis, he will have his degree in economics.

Boone is not entirely sure what he wants to do with his degree once his playing days are over.

For now, he wants to add to the Boone baseball legacy.

“Growing up I didn’t have any inkling of what it was; I just knew my dad played baseball, my uncle played baseball and my grandfather played. That was normal,” he said.

“I didn’t realize how amazing it was that family members had done until I came until middle school and high school and realized how lucky I was to have these baseball minds around me,” he said.

Now he is around some of those minds who have worked with his grandfather for years, including assistant general manager, player development Mark Scialabba. His grandfather was in Florida to watch him in instructs.

“He is someone that players gravitate to with his knowledge of the game. He works extremely hard defensively. He is showing that he belongs. He has quick hands and a strong throwing arm. He can play up the middle, he can play on the corners. We are excited about him,” Scialabba told Federal Baseball.