Ex-Mariner Boone set for Vancouver visit

Retired player to help raise money for scoreboards

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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It has been four years since Bret Boone played in a professional baseball game, seven seasons since he last played second base in a major-league game, and more than a decade since he helped the 2001 Seattle Mariners to 116 wins.

But baseball is still very much in his blood.

"I want to get back in the game," Boone said. "I feel like it's meant to be."

Boone will visit Vancouver on Sept. 22 to help former Mariner teammate Tom Lampkin raise money to install scoreboards for the varsity baseball and softball fields at each of the Evergreen School District's four high schools. Tickets for the raffle and reception start at $20 and will be available at the door.

Boone last played in a Major League Baseball game in July 2005. He played in 1,780 career games -- most of them for the Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds.

If he returns to professional baseball, it won't be as a second baseman. Now 43, Boone said he isn't sure what role he might land. He said he would like to manage, but isn't ready to trade being a father in the San Diego area to ride a bus with a minor-league team.

He has a daughter and three sons, including 8-year-old twin boys, to keep him hopping, and he coaches his older son's baseball team. Boone doesn't miss the grind of playing every day, or the travel that takes players away from family.

Baseball is a lifestyle that runs through his veins, though. Bret's grandfather Ray Boone, father Bob Boone, and brother Aaron Boone each played in the major leagues. Bret Boone batted .266 in his career and was a three-time All-Star. He hit 252 career home runs.

At first, Boone said, it was a relief to be retired and free of the grind.

"It's a rigorous, rigorous schedule," said Boone, who briefly attempted a comeback in 2008.

Not that he would trade his 14 years in the big leagues. When he retired in 2005, Boone found it a challenge to replace the day-to-day competition of a baseball life.

"After a while you miss it," he said. "I miss going 0 for 4. I never thought I'd miss that."

Though he lives in San Diego, he said the Mariners will always be special to him.

"The city was very kind to me," he said. "I'm always pulling for them."