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Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball's First Family


Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball's First Family

There’s very little that’s more common in baseball than unfulfilled promise. Every spring, Major League Baseball holds an annual amateur draft, adding hundreds of young players to the farm systems of the big-league clubs. And every year, the majority of the players who sign never get out of the minors. Even highly touted first-round picks fail to have impressive major-league careers more often than not. My hometown Texas Rangers have a relief pitcher on their staff now who had been picked number-one overall almost a decade ago as a shortstop; he never made the majors at his original position. And this is commonplace.

Bret Boone makes a lot of promises in the early chapters of HOME GAME, and he doesn’t fulfill many of them. Boone says that the book will focus on “inside baseball,” the game within the game, and provide the reader with unexpected insights about the national pastime. But it’s also billed as a book of stories, and there are a lot more stories than anything else. Some of them are pretty good, like how Boone describes growing up around the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse and having Pete Rose call him a “mullion.” Or how Boone learned what was on the postgame menu after his first official minor-league game. Or how Boone ended up not calling the single most memorable moment in his brother Aaron’s career.

"HOME GAME is much more of a family story than a baseball tale, and should be enjoyed as such."

When Boone is trying to be informative, HOME GAME is compelling. When he tries to be entertaining, it is at least interesting. But a good deal of the book is about score-settling. Just to start with, it turns out that Boone has a huge grudge against the entire world because he wasn’t drafted high coming out of high school, and when he re-entered after three years of college, he was only drafted in the fifth round. I can understand that Boone was disappointed he wasn’t taken in the first round and that it’s still a sore subject, but it’s also probably a good and healthy thing for him to let that kind of thing go. There are also frequent mentions of things like getting snubbed for All-Star Games, getting benched in the World Series and being traded. Boone is trying to tell his life story here, warts and all, and so, of course, some of the negative moments get included, but it does seem like he engages in a lot of harping throughout the book. (In contrast, really low points, like his struggle with alcoholism, aren’t given the same sort of focus.)

If the reader can sift through the self-aggrandizing nuggets in Boone’s career (such as when he acquires the nickname “The Boone”) and the background complaints, there is a noble and surprising tender side to his story. Not surprisingly, it’s rooted in his family. When he talks about his father, grandfather and brother, it’s impossible to miss his evident pride and love. He never tires of reminding the reader that he’s the first third-generation major leaguer, and this gets a little wearying, but it comes from his deep and stable relationship with his family --- how his grandfather played catch with him, how his dad fixed his swing, how his brother became famous for one unlikely home run, and how his kids love the game as much as he does.

HOME GAME is much more of a family story than a baseball tale, and should be enjoyed as such.

Audiobook available, read by Bret Boone

Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds on June 3, 2016

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball's First Family
by Bret Boone and Kevin Cook

  • Publication Date: May 10, 2016
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Sports
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype
  • ISBN-10: 1101904909
  • ISBN-13: 9781101904909