It is May 2017, a beautiful day in San Diego. As the TPHS baseball team runs into the outfield to begin warming up, dedicated fans fill the bleachers, ready to support and cheer on the team. Lifelong baseball fan and shortstop Jake Boone (12) joins his teammates with the enthusiastic support of familiar faces; his father, Bret Boone; uncle, Aaron Boone and grandfather, Bob Boone.
“My entire family plays baseball,” Jake said. “I started playing when I was two years old, and that was kind of it.”
When Boone says his entire family plays baseball, he is not talking about adult leagues or pick-up games. Bret had a 14-year big league career with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets. Aaron played in the big leagues for 12 years, moving through a total of seven teams in locations from Cincinnati to Houston. Bob played in MLB for 18 years and Jake’s great-grandfather, Ray, played for 12 years in the big leagues.
With warm-ups completed and the national anthem played, Boone thinks about his start in the world of baseball. After growing up in a household where baseball was not just an ordinary activity but a lifestyle, baseball was everything to him. This eventually led him to fall in love with the game at a young age.
Boone got his start at the age of five playing for a Mariners little league team in Seattle, while his dad played for the MLB Mariners team. Two years later, Boone and his family moved to California and he began playing for club team Rancho Santa Fe Titans, where he continued to play throughout his freshman year of high school.
Halfway through the game, Boone runs onto the field to take his position at shortstop. With his glove firmly on his hand, he watches the ball with pure concentration as it flies from the pitcher to the hitter and off the bat in Boone’s direction. He jumps up to catch the ball, making an impressive play. He looks over to the bleachers and sees his dad and grandfather clapping, watching him not just play, but perform, on the field.
Boone played with the RSF Titans until 2013 and then began playing with the California Bears, a club team, during the summer of 2014. When he got to high school, Boone’s teammates assumed that he was under crushing pressure because of his family’s history in the sport, but even though baseball is such a huge part of their lives, his family never forced him to continue playing. Boone made the decision to train hard himself and continues to practice in the off-season.
“During the season, we have practice every weekday, as well as some Saturdays if we don’t have games,” Boone said. “During the off-season, I’ll probably hit three times a week by myself, and then I’ll work out five to six times a week.”
Boone followed his workout schedule rigorously as a freshman while playing for the TPHS JV team, and through his dedication, he earned a spot on the varsity team as a sophomore.
Boone did not take this journey by himself; he constantly receives advice from his grandfather. Boone’s family is the only family in history to have three generations of major league players.
“[My grandfather] played for … mainly the Phillies and the Angels,” Boone said.
As the last inning of the game approaches, Boone takes his place at the plate. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees his grandfather clapping, a reminder to focus on how this game could affect the next step in his career.
“A lot of scouts were at our games and my club tournaments when I’d go to big [ones],” Boone said. “I went to the Junior Olympics in Arizona. There were 20 scouts at every game … That’s when I started getting [calls from] coaches.”
Last year, Boone, with the help of his family, explored his options for playing in college and traveled to the East Coast.
“I [sat] down with four of the Ivy League coaches, and they took me around the campuses,” Boone said. “I talked to the Princeton [coach], Coach Bradley, for a couple hours, and I really liked everything he talked about … the facilities were awesome; I loved the campus.”
This year, Boone led the Falcons for the last time in his high school career, after playing 73 games for TPHS. Boone played for the varsity baseball team for three years and was named captain this year.
Taking his place on the field for the last time as a Falcon, Boone prepares to trade his red and gold for Princeton’s orange and navy. Having had years of experience behind him, he looks at the stands around him filled with excited fans, classmates and, of course, his family.
Boone hopes that following his career at Princeton, he will join the Boone family legacy and add to the historical record by becoming the fourth Boone generation to play in the big leagues.