One of the most durable catchers of all-time, Bob Boone may not have hit with authority like Bench, Fisk, Simmons and Parrish, but he had few peers behind the dish. He ranks very high in most career defensive stats from the backstop post. His 11,260 putouts are sixth all-time and he finished in the Top 5 in throwing out would-be base stealers eleven times in his career. A four-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner, Bob was awarded his final Gold Glove as a 41-year-old with the 1989 KC Royals.
The son of former Major League slugger Ray Boone, Bob was a sixth round selection by the Phillies in 1969. The Phillies gave him a 16 game trial at the end of 1972 and with John Bateman serving as a minor roadblock, he took over the everyday catching duties in ’73. Bob finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1973 as he socked ten homeruns and eclipsed 60 RBI as a freshman. Although his numbers tapered off in 1974, he was always a difficult strikeout victim. Bob was only called out on strikes 29 times in 146 games in 1974.
Boone made his first All-Star Game in 1976 when the Phillies captured the NL West flag. Postseason play rarely gave Bob fits, as he hit .286 in the ’76 NLCS and was a career .311 hitter in 36 postseason contests. The following year was Boone’s best with the bat. He hit .284 with career highs in doubles and RBI. The NLCS was another Philadelphia loss but another Bob Boone offensive explosion. Bob hit a robust .400.
His 1977 season was a good year at the plate and in 1978 his offensive line was quite similar. He made his second All-Star team, won his first Gold Glove and had a career high dozen homeruns. For the third straight year, the Phillies captured the NL East flag but were downed in the playoffs. They finally got over the hump in 1980. That year Bob guided the Phillies to a World Series title while hitting Kansas City Royals pitchers to the tune of a .412 batting average.
Bob suffered through his worst season in the strike shortened 1981 campaign and after the schedule ended, the Phillies allowed him to test the free agent waters. The wave of free agency carried him to the spend-thrift California Angels who were loading their roster with free agent talent around the time. Their open-wallet ways got them an AL West title Bob’s first year with the Halos. He won his third Gold Glove that year and hit a homerun in an ALCS loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Boone’s defense was at its peak in the early 1980s. In 1982, he led catchers in putouts, assists and caught stealing percentage–he gunned down 58.2% of would-be thieves in ’82. In 1983, he again led catchers in assists and made the American League All-Star team. When his bat dried up in the mid 1980s, his exceptional defense carried him through his mid to upper 30s. He led catchers in gunning down would-be base stealers again in 1985 and 1987 before experiencing an offensive reawakening in 1988.
As a 40-year-old catcher in 1988, Bob led Major League receivers with a .295 batting average. His offense was simply gravy, as the elder was still a top-notch receiver, indicated by his sixth Gold Glove Award. Despite Bob’s resurgent year, the Angels let him walk via free agency and he signed with the Kansas City Royals for 1989. That year Bob won his final Gold Glove Award–at the ripe age of 41–while hitting the apple at a .274 clip. His 1990 season was limited by injury and he gave way to Mike Macfarlane, thus ending his career.
G 2,264/R 679/H 1,838/2B 303/3B 26/HR 105/RBI 826/SB 38/BB 663/SO 608/BA .254/SA .346/OBP .315