Princeton's Jake Boone aims to become a fourth-generation MLB player

PRINCETON, N.J. — This day was a particularly nice one at Princeton University. The sun shone brightly, the temperature was in the mid-60s, and a gentle breeze floated occasionally across the campus.

It was the first sign Jake Boone had received of the pleasant spring weather in New Jersey that so many had insisted to him was just around the corner.

“This is the best day we’ve had all year,” said Boone, a freshman second baseman on the Tigers baseball team. “I love to see this. I had been waking up in the morning to 25 degrees.”

For a young man raised in San Diego, this day was on the low end of the weather he is used to, but it allowed him to go out comfortably in shorts and a T-shirt.

Still, the climate is just one of the things Boone doesn’t mind trading for an Ivy League education – along with being across the country from his family and taking the collegiate pathway that, he hopes, will result someday in his becoming a fourth-generation major league baseball player.

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The baseball Boones: From left, Princeton baseball player Jake Boone in 2018; the Seattle Mariners’ Bret Boone in 2003; Cincinnati Reds manager Bob Boone in 2003; the Cleveland Indians’ Ray Boone in 1957; and Yankees manager Aaron Boone in 2018.

The son of three-time all-star Bret Boone, grandson of four-time all-star and Phillies World Series champion Bob Boone, great-grandson of two-time all-star Ray Boone, and nephew of all-star and rookie New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, Jake Boone was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 38th round of the 2017 draft out of Torrey Pines High School.

Major league baseball has never been played by four generations of a single family. The Boones are one of a quartet of grandfather/father/son combinations in MLB history, joining the Bells (Gus, Buddy, David and Mike), Colemans (Joe, Joe, Casey), and Hairstons (Sam, Jerry, Jerry Jr. and Scott).

When Princeton accepted Jake, who had made the San Diego Union-Tribune all-academic team three times, it was an easy call to go to college. Under MLB rules, he won’t be eligible for the draft again until 2020 because he went to college.

“When I got drafted, it was an awesome thing to feel and I was excited, but I was set on college,” said Jake Boone, who added that there was no family pressure put on him to play baseball. “I had visited Princeton and a couple of other Ivy League schools during my senior year.

He said he liked what he heard from Princeton coach Scott Bradley, a former major leaguer himself, “and I loved the campus. Once I got the offer, I committed pretty quickly.”

Jake Boone is a third-generation Division I baseball player. Bob Boone, who is assistant general manager and vice president of player development for the Nationals, attended Stanford before being drafted by Phillies in the sixth round in 1969. Bret and Aaron Boone went to the University of Southern California.

With counseling from his elders, Jake Boone decided that Princeton was the right place at this time in his life while he chases his dream of becoming a fourth-generation major-leaguer.

Camera icon Beverly Schaefer / For the Inquirer
Jake Boone (second from left) with Princeton teammates (from left) Sy Snedeker, Conor Nolan and Keith Gabrielson in the dugout during a game against Harvard.

“Princeton offered Division I sports with a world-class education,” said Jake Boone, who has not yet declared a major but is leaning toward economics. “When you get an offer from an Ivy League school, you weigh your options and it is hard not to do it.”

Boone has started 20 of the Tigers’ first 33 games and is batting .167. Princeton (10-23) plays around 35 regular-season games – a far cry from the 100-plus games in a minor-league season. Boone, however, does not believe that a limited college schedule will be an issue as he pursues a baseball career.

“What I heard over and over from my dad, uncle and grandpa was that if I’m ultimately good enough to make it, I can go to any college I want because they [major-league scouts] will find me and I’ll get an opportunity,” said Jake, who has switched to No. 10 after wearing his dad’s No. 29 for most of his life. “With that in mind, it was hard to turn down an education like this.

“My mind-set is that if I’m good enough, I prove myself, so it doesn’t matter where I’m playing. I just know that I’m excited for all the years that I’m going to spend at Princeton.”