Former Mariners Infielder Bret Boone turns the clock back to 2001.
(As told to Jim Street)
Bret Boone had two stints with the Mariners during his 14-year Major League career and the first year of his second tour was the best of all. The popular and productive second baseman batted a career-best .331 with 37 home runs and an American League-leading 141 RBIs in 2001. He played in 158 games that season, including a night game against the Tigers at Safeco Field on August 22. This is his story of the Mariners’ 16-1 victory.
It was one of those blowout games that we had that season. (Manager) Lou Piniella usually would have taken me out of the game to give me some rest, but when you already have a double, triple and home run, you have to play it out and see if you can hit for the cycle. That’s a pretty rare thing right there.
The game was against the Tigers and Jose Lima was their starter. Throughout your career, there are some pitchers every hitter likes to hit against. Jose was one of those guys for me. I always saw the ball well and had some success against him, so I felt pretty comfortable when I faced him.
Still, the last thing I expected when I came to bat in the first inning that night against Jose was to hit a home run. But I did. We scored something like six runs in the inning, knocking him out of the game. In the second inning, I came up to bat against (Adam) Pettyjohn, and doubled to right.
An inning later, we scored a bunch of runs (seven) and KO’d Pettyjohn. They made another pitching change, bringing Chris Holt in to face me. He was the third pitcher I had faced and it was the kind of night for me that it didn’t matter who was pitching. I was locked in.
I forget the count, but I hit a ball to right-center and figured I had another double. But when I got close to second, I picked up the third-base coach, Dave Myers, and he was waving me to third. I made it, dusted myself off and realized that I had three legs of the cycle – and it was still the third inning!
For the first time, I started thinking about hitting for the cycle, something I had never done, mostly because I rarely hit triples during my career. When I got to third, I knew I had gotten the hard one out of the way. Now I’m thinking I have a chance (to hit for the cycle).
After I scored and went into the dugout, someone told me they had heard on the radio that the team had a promotion going and if I hit a single, a fan would win $1 million. The way I felt that night, and having at least two more at-bats, I knew I was going to make this lady’s day. I mean, it was one of those games that I felt I could do no wrong. There was no way anyone was going to keep me from getting another hit.
We were killing the Tigers and there’s this lady who’s going to get $1 million if I get a single. I remember going to the plate for my final at-bat and my teammates were kind of joking with me. ‘Hey, you’ve got to get a single for this lady.’
The only thing that concerned me was, ‘If I hit one into the gap, how am I going to keep it to a single? Should I just stop at first base? In that situation, especially in a blowout, should I risk taking an extra base?’ All of that was going through my mind. I finally decided that I had to respect the game and not do anything unusual.
But now I had a kind of pressure that I wasn’t used to. We had the game in hand and the outcome pretty much was a foregone conclusion, or as safe a bet as any, that we were going to win. All of a sudden I had this woman on my mind and if I get a single, she was going to get $1 million. I’m in position to do it and I thought that would be pretty cool.
I had popped out (in the fifth inning) so the pressure was mounting even more, although I knew I had another at-bat coming. The game was an afterthought and everyone was wondering if I was going to complete the cycle. Everything was in my hands to deliver.
I can remember my last at-bat. I smoked a ground ball right at the second baseman. I couldn’t have hit it any better. I ran so hard to first base, almost out of desperation, knowing full well as soon as I hit that it was as routine of play as you could make and I had no chance of beating it out. I remember almost falling down at first base I wanted to beat the throw so bad. But I was out by a few steps and felt bad for the lady. She didn’t win the million dollars. I thought I let her down.
Jim Street covered the Mariners for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and MLB.com from 1986-2010. This story initially appeared in Mariners Magazine.
Seattle Mariners 16, Detroit Tigers 1
Game Played on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 (N) at Safeco Field
Detroit Tigers AB R H RBI
Cedeno cf 3 0 1 0
Cardona c 2 0 1 1
Easley 2b 4 0 0 0
Higginson lf 1 0 0 0
Macias cf 3 0 0 0
T. Clark 1b 1 0 0 0
Magee lf 1 0 0 0
Fick c 2 0 0 0
Jackson 1b 2 0 0 0
Simon dh 3 1 1 0
Halter 3b 3 0 2 0
Cruz ss 3 0 0 0
Encarnacion rf 4 0 1 0
Lima p 0 0 0 0
Pettyjohn p 0 0 0 0
Holt p 0 0 0 0
Totals 32 1 6 1
FIELDING – DP: 2. Easley-Cruz-T. Clark, Cruz-Easley-Jackson.
BATTING – 2B: Cedeno (12,off Abbott); Halter (24,off Abbott); Cardona (2,off Franklin).GDP: T. Clark (11,off Abbott); Higginson (4,off Abbott).Team LOB: 11.
Seattle Mariners AB R H RBI
Suzuki rf 4 2 3 1
Gipson cf 2 0 1 1
McLemore cf,rf 2 2 0 0
Javier rf 1 0 0 0
Martinez dh 4 2 2 5
Lampkin ph,dh 1 1 0 0
Olerud 1b 5 3 3 4
Boone 2b 5 2 3 3
Martin lf 3 0 0 0
Guillen ss 5 0 0 0
Bell 3b 5 3 5 1
Wilson c 5 1 3 0
Abbott p 0 0 0 0
Franklin p 0 0 0 0
Charlton p 0 0 0 0
Nelson p 0 0 0 0
Rhodes p 0 0 0 0
Totals 42 16 20 15
FIELDING – DP: 2. Guillen-Boone-Olerud, Olerud-Guillen-Abbott.E: Boone (7).
BATTING – 2B: Martinez 2 (31,off Lima,off Pettyjohn); Boone (29,off Pettyjohn); Wilson(13,off Pettyjohn); Bell (22,off Holt).3B: Boone (3,off Holt).HR: Olerud 2 (17,1st inning off Lima 1 on 0 out,7th inning off Holt 1 on 1out); Boone (28,1st inning off Lima 0 on 0 out); Bell (12,1st inning offLima 0 on 2 out).HBP: Martin (2,by Pettyjohn).GDP: Guillen (8,off Holt); Javier (7,off Holt). Team LOB: 7.
Seattle Mariners IP H R ER BB SO
Abbott W(13-3) 5 4 0 0 5 2
Franklin 1 2 1 1 1 0
Charlton 1 0 0 0 1 2
Nelson 1 0 0 0 0 2
Rhodes 1 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 9 6 1 1 7 7
Umpires: HP – Alfonso Marquez, 1B – Ron Barnes, 2B – Mike Winters, 3B – Ted Barrett
Time of Game: 2:57 Attendance: 45,814