Joe Torre reigned over the rebirth of a dynasty, winning four World Series championships during his tenure in pinstripes. For recent generations, he’s still the gold standard for managing in the Bronx.
By comparison, Aaron Boone soon will be officially named the Yankees’ next skipper, even though he’s never coached or managed at any level.
Still, at least one person sees a few critical similarities between Boone and Torre, who reside on opposite ends of the experience scale.
“I think he has a lot of the intangibles that I always felt that Joe Torre had in terms of being highly respected and the magic that he brings to the clubhouse,” said Bob Boone, Aaron’s father, himself a former big-league player and manager. “That’s really what that job is all about.”
In a telephone interview with Newsday, the elder Boone expressed confidence in his son’s ability to overcome a significant experience gap. Clearly, general manager Brian Cashman shares that optimism.
“To get arguably the best sports job in the world with no experience at it is pretty remarkable,” Bob Boone said. “I think Mr. Cashman made a tremendous decision, a great decision. I know Aaron very well. What he does, they’re going to love him there. He has such a great personality. He has what you need in that locker room and he certainly has the baseball acumen. Even if he hasn’t managed ever, I think he’ll be spectacular at it.”
Aaron Boone’s appointment represents the latest crown jewel for a family that has produced three generations of big- leaguers. The chain began with Ray Boone, an infielder who played for six teams from 1948 to 1960. It continued with Bob Boone, a seven-time Gold Glove-winning catcher, including with the world champion Phillies in 1980.
The third generation included sons Bret and Aaron, both of whom enjoyed long major-league playing careers.
Now the family adds another accomplishment, joining the ranks of rare father-son combinations to reach the big-league managerial ranks.
“When you attain something like Aaron has, I’m proud of him for that, not ‘oh, good, that carries on the legend,’ ” Bob Boone said. “That has nothing to do with it whatsoever. But certainly, I think any daddy, if his son gets the manager’s job for the Yankees, he’s going to be pretty proud, pretty excited and very humble about it. That’s what really has happened, and I think that’s how we as a family really think about it.”
Bob and Joel Skinner represented the last father-son combo in the dugout. The latter, a former Yankees catcher, was appointed interim manager of the Indians in 2002.
Before that, Earle Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics several times on an interim basis in place of his father, the legendary Connie Mack. Another Hall of Famer, Dick Sisler, served as a player-manager. Sisler’s son George also wound up as a skipper.
Bob Boone earned two chances to manage in the big leagues. His first stint came with the Royals from 1995 to his firing in 1997. He resurfaced in the Reds’ dugout, taking over in 2001 until his dismissal in 2003. He compiled a 371-444 career record.
During that latter stint, he managed Aaron, who played for the Reds from 1997 to 2003. It was during that time that the elder Boone saw early signs that his son might have a future in managing.
“In managing him, I saw how he interacted with all the players and he was in a much tougher spot than I was in,” Boone said. “You can imagine everyone in the clubhouse going to him, ‘Hey, what does your dad think about this? Who’s going to make the club?’ All those things. And he handled it magnificently.”
It was an indication of the younger Boone’s savvy with people, which will be put to the test as he succeeds Joe Girardi as manager of the Yankees.
“He’ll certainly be able to relate to players,” Boone said. “If you’ve been around Aaron, Aaron’s real niche is that he’s a people person.”
There will be a learning curve. It will take a while to get accustomed to making the final call. But while Boone acknowledged that his son likely will endure an adjustment period, he also noted a few built-in advantages.
One is Aaron’s stint as an ESPN broadcaster, which required prep work that made him familiar with teams all over the major leagues.
But the on-field aspect of the job should come quickly.
“There’s not too many times that you outmanage the other guy or the other guy outmanages you, especially nowadays with all of the statistical information and the setups for the game,” said Boone, who works in player development for the Nationals as a vice president and senior adviser to the general manager. “You’re getting a lot of help from a lot of different people and you’re coming into the game with a pretty good game plan.”
Clearly, Yankees fans already have some familiarity with Aaron Boone, whose one season in the Bronx culminated with one of the most iconic homers in franchise history. Boone’s walk-off home run off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series sent the Yankees to the World Series. But the elder Boone believes his son will further solidify his standing now that he’ll be handed the reins to a talented team coming off a surprise postseason run.
“It’s really making the things happen in the clubhouse and bringing all the players that you have together,” the elder Boone said. “I think the Yankees have made a tremendous choice. I think you’re going to see it real soon.”
Father and son spent Friday night watching their respective alma maters battle on the football field in the Pac-12 championship game, with Aaron’s USC Trojans knocking off Bob’s Stanford Cardinal. Most of the talk was about bragging rights.
The elder Boone figures the conversations soon will shift to baseball, particularly the challenges of managing.
“He has to be careful about asking me because I have a lot of opinions, I have a lot of thoughts,” Boone said with a laugh. “So if he ever does ask, he will get a lot of input. And I’m sure we’ll have some phone calls during the year.”
New Yankees manager Aaron Boone is a third-generation major-leaguer. His family tree:
Aaron’s grandfather — the patriarch of the baseball clan — was an infielder for six teams from 1948-60. A .275 lifetime hitter, he was an All-Star in 1954 and 1956 as a Tiger. He also played for the Indians, White Sox, Braves, A’s and Red Sox. His wife, Patsy Boone, was a synchronized swimmer who, grandson Bret Boone has said, appeared in several Esther Williams movies. Reportedly a descendent of American pioneer Daniel Boone, he died at 81 in 2004.
Aaron’s dad, 70, was a four-time All-Star catcher who played for the Phillies, Angels and Royals from 1972-90. He was a .254 lifetime hitter. Boone managed the Royals from 1995-97 and the Reds from 2001-03, compiling a 371-444 overall record.
Boone’s extended family are considered sportsmen. His sister Terry Boone was a champion swimmer, and his brother Rod Boone played Triple-A ball in the Astros’ and Royals’ organizations.
Aaron’s older brother, 48, was a second baseman who played from 1992-2005 for the Mariners, Reds, Braves, Padres and Twins. A .266 lifetime hitter, he leads the Boone family with 252 home runs. (Ray hit 151, Aaron 105.) Bret also authored a book: “Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family”
Owner of an unprintable nickname, thanks to his famous home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Boone, 44, was an analyst at ESPN before taking the Yankees’ job. A third baseman, he played for the Reds from 1997 until July 31, 2003, when he was traded to the Yankees for Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning and cash. The Yankees released him March 1, 2004, after he suffered an injury playing basketball that would keep him inactive during the 2004 season. He signed with the Indians in 2005 and played until 2009 for the Marlins, Nationals and Astros.
Aaron’s younger brother, 38, was only 17 when he made his organized baseball debut for the Gulf Coast Tigers in 1997. A third aseman/outfielder, he played until 2003 but never made it past Class A.